3-30-2020 COVID-19 Update from MN Governor and the MN Department of Health
Minnesota COVID-19 Update from Governor Tim Walz and the MN Department of Health
On Monday, March 30, Governor Walz joined representatives from the Minnesota Department of Health and other state agencies to provide an update on Minnesota’s response to COVID-19
Update from Governor Walz:
- We have lost another Minnesotan, bringing the total to ten deaths and 576 positive cases.
- After the first full weekend of the stay at home order, Minnesotans are doing this.
- According to the Department of Public Safety, in the month of March, traffic flow was down 71 percent in rural/greater Minnesota, and 79 percent in the metro area.
- I signed the COVID-19 assistance package over the weekend that was passed by the legislature.
- includes peacetime emergency childcare grants, assistance for our veterans, supports food banks and homeless shelters, support for small businesses, and extends disaster assistance to farmers
- Executive Order 20-14 to put a stop to evictions — I would ask folks to work with one another. If you’re capable of paying, certainly do so. If you need to work out things with landlords, or with the department of human services, please continue to let us know.
- I was on a conference call with President Trump, Vice President Pence and Dr. Anthony Fauci, and fellow governors — there is a refocused effort on trying to partner with the states to get the critical infrastructure to us.
Update from Department of Administration Commissioner Alice Roberts-Davis:
- My No. 1 goal is to make sure that Minnesota has the ability to resource the necessary supplies and equipment to respond to COVID-19.
- Minnesota is in competition with 49 other states and many other countries as we work to respond to this global pandemic.
- Minnesota is very fortunate to have thriving corporate community that we’re working with to fulfill these needs. From masks to ventilators, we have companies who are ready and willing to step up and support our state and we’re grateful for their partnership.
- we’re working to understand the current usage of PPE by health care providers in creating models for protecting demand. But we’re not sitting on our hands as that work is being done. We know there’s an urgent need for masks and gloves and gowns and other PPE in our health care facilities today, so we’re aggressively sourcing those items as quickly as possible.
- In addition, we’re creating a short-term and long-term plan to first, address the immediate needs, then how to use demand forecasting and automation to ensure health care providers get the supplies that they need in the time that they need them.
- We will utilize the public and private resources available to us to get the protective equipment to the front line health care workers.
Update from Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm:
- Globally, 740,000 cases and 35,000 deaths.
- 143,000 confirmed cases in the U.S. and 2,500 deaths
- There are 576 laboratory-confirmed cases in Minnesota, an increase of 73 from yesterday’s total.
- Age range is 4 months to 104 years. Median age is 45 years.
- Since the start of the outbreak, a total of 92 COVID-19 patients hospitalized in Minnesota. There are 56 patients currently in the hospital, and 24 of those are in intensive care.
- Increasing number of cases in congregate care settings, specifically nursing homes, assisted living, memory care and the like. There are 31 such facilities with at least one case.
- This total of 576 lab-confirmed cases is just that. We know there are more cases in MN.
- As the weather improves, it’s important to maintain social distancing even as we’re outside.
- As of now we have no backlog in the lab testing.
Update from Homeland Security and Emergency Management Director Joe Kelly:
- Thanks to everyone for compliance on the stay at home order
- Law enforcement are providing people with education on this. They’re not looking to issue citations or charge people
- If you’d like to report a concern about the stay at home order, call (651) 793-3746 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
- PPE continues to be a challenge. The Salvation Army is taking donations.
- PPE can also be donated to your local emergency manager.
- Alternate care site planning team is looking at places around the state that can be used as temporary hospitals for non-critical patients. The team has identified three of those places. Their goal is to identify space for more than 2,000 beds.
- We’re not ready to identify what sites we’re considering just yet.
- Blood banks are still low on supply. You can still give blood while maintaining social distancing. Cash donations would be helpful as well.
Update from Department of Employment and Economic Development Commissioner Steve Grove:
- Responded to 2,500 businesses seeking clarification on the stay at home order.
- We want to emphasize for Minnesotans to rely on common sense.
- There have been 239,263 new applications for unemployment insurance since March 16. That’s more than all of 2019.
- To accommodate all of those applications, we’re implementing a new system to intake new applications to ensure people get good service.
- If the last digit of your social security number is 0, 1 or 2, apply on Monday. If it’s 3, 4 or 5 apply on Tuesday. If it’s 6, 7, 8 or 9 you should apply on Wednesday. Thursday and Friday is open for anyone who missed their assigned day.
- The federal government has passed benefits for self-employed people and independent contractors who wouldn’t usually qualify for unemployment insurance.
- Federal government has extended the unemployment insurance benefits for an additional 13 weeks.
- Companies are still hiring — nursing assistance, human and social services assistants, registered nurses, customer service, security guards and personal care aids.
- The top seven employers in Minnesota hiring right now are Allina Health, Fairview Health, Securitas Security Services, Wells Fargo, Randstad (staffing agency), Walgreens, and Thomas Allen (personal care aids).
- Restaurants, bars and places of public amusement — the loan program for those businesses is officially open. Loans are 50% forgivable at 0% interest. Businesses can borrow between $2,500 and $35,000.
- There is also a small business loan guarantee program. The state is seeking banks who can be partners in this effort.
Update from Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Education Heather Mueller:
- Today is day-one of distance learning.
- We’re asking for patients from educators, families and students as we learn in this learning environment for the first time.
- Thanks to the educators who are doing good work during this time.
Meanwhile, the governor received a question as to whether hospital workers have enough personal protective equipment.
“As of today, yes. The question is though, will they have enough next week, or more importantly, will they have enough when the peak there,” Governor Walz said. “And at this time, they don’t yet. That was the reason for pulling down the stay at home order, by ramping up our procurement, by bringing in our partners.”
The governor reiterated that the state is doing the things necessary to get the personal protective equipment when the time comes. “It is a tenuous situation and we are continuing to ramp up acquisition of them.”
Health officials also took a question about whether health care workers with COVID-19 were infected via transmission from infected patients or through other means.
“It is the case initially that we were able to identify sources other than patient transmission for all of the health care worker exposures,
“The vast majority of exposures have continued to occur outside the health care setting,” said Kris Ehresmann, director of infectious diseases at the Minnesota Dept. of Health. “We have had a handful of situations in which there has been exposure — two instances from patient to health care worker, and several instances from health care workers to co-workers. But we have thankfully had a fairly limited number of situations in which the health care setting was the source of exposure, which is reassuring when you consider that we have 157 of our cases in health care workers. But do keep in mind that our priorities for testing have been hospitalized patients, health care workers and then individuals living and working in congregate living situations.”
The governor also addressed a question about getting messages of COVID-19 out to a diverse audience.
“This is one of the areas I lose sleep over,” Gov. Walz said. “We want to make sure we’re putting out health guidance in multiple languages. How are we getting to ethnic media?”
The governor said he would continue to ask his team to look for new ways to make sure that PSA’s are getting out there to all of Minnesota’s communities, and that everybody “has the best information and is not trading in innuendo.”