4-14-2020 COVID-19 Update from MN Governor Tim Walz and MDH
MN Governor Walz to Join Minnesota Department of Health COVID-19 Update 4-14-2020
COVID-19 Update from Governor Walz:
- Yesterday, extended the peacetime emergency. Signed initially on March 13. It opens up certain tools in our toolbox.
- If it extends beyond five days, the law states that it goes to the Executive Council (the Governor, the Lt. Governor, the MN Attorney General, the MN Sec. of State, and the Auditor’s Office). A vote is taken there and a majority vote is what it takes.
- The legislature can, by a majority vote in both houses, overturn the peacetime emergency.
- There’s nothing in the Minnesota statute that goes beyond the 30 days. So we’re interpreting that in the most conservative manner.
- Our hope and our planning is that we won’t have to extend it much longer, but should we, and should the legislature not be in session, we would call them back into session so they could have the opportunity to overturn it if they so choose.
- The Peacetime Emergency allows us to enhance veterans’ home protection, activated the National Guard to deliver supplies, preserved our PPE, and allowed some regulatory changes to licensing boards.
- Spent the morning speaking to the federal delegation. “Incredibly engaged, incredibly helpful.”
- Today we’re watching the legislature closely. They’re moving a package of things through — allowing us to purchase milk for hunger organizations, allowing people who are uninsured access to COVID-19 testing, and passing the Alex Smith Insulin Affordability Act.
- We’re watching the river gauges closely in Oslo, Minnesota. Looking to disengage our National Guard on Friday or Saturday.
COVID-19 Update from Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm:
- Global total of COVID-19, 1.9 million cases and 120,o00 deaths
- 582,000 confirmed cases in the U.S. and 23,649 deaths from COVID-19
- In MN, a total of 1,695 cases, an increase of 45 from yesterday’s report.
- We had nine more deaths since yesterday, we’re now at 79 total deaths.
- As of today, 909 patients have been released from isolation. There are 177 patients in the hospital, 75 in the ICU.
- Update on grant funding for COVID-19 assistance — legislature made a total of $200 million available for health care, including one initial $50 million fund which we announced grants for last week. That money will help with emergency short-term COVID funding needs for health care facilities.
- Today we’re announcing the opening of the application process for the remaining $150 million for eligible applicants, including health care clinics, pharmacies, acute care and long term care facilities, hospitals and health care systems, and ambulatory services. The application information is available on the MDH website. No deadline for applying, but we encourage people to apply ASAP. We’re certain we won’t be able to fund all of the requests, but we’ll work to fund as many as we can based on an evaluation of need.
- Emergency dental care: don’t go to hospital emergency rooms, that’s not ideal because their resources need to be focused on other issues. We encourage all dental care providers to make doctors available for emergency services.
COVID-19 Update from Homeland Security and Emergency Management Director Joe Kelly
- We continue to work to acquire PPE for first responders. We’ve received dozens of calls and emails offering products and services to help with the COVID-19 fight.
- Even though many of us just celebrated holidays, we know that the virus does not take a holiday and neither will Minnesota’s emergency operations center.
- Please visit our website on how to protect yourself or your loved-ones from summer weather hazards.
Update from Department of Employment and Economic Development Commissioner Steve Grove:
- New milestone: double the number of applications for unemployment insurance than we received in all of 2019. We have 451,790 applications in Minnesota as of yesterday.
- Who’s most affected:
- 14 percent of Minnesota’s labor force has applied for unemployment insurance
- About 15 percent of the applications are under the age of 25, and 21 percent are over the age of 55.
- About 24.5 percent of people who have applied have a high school diploma or less
- Gender: 45 percent is male, 55 percent women
- Race: 75 percent of applicants are white, 25.8 percent people of color
- Pandemic unemployment insurance:
- federal program that comes out of the CARES Act
- The core idea is to get unemployment dollars to people not usually covered by the program (i.e. people who are self-employed or independent contractors)
- we’re expecting this to be operational by the end of April
- Anyone eligible for these benefits will have money backdated to when the CARES Act went into effect
- At some point we won’t be staying at home and people will go back to work in a new environment. To plan for this, DEED, Department of Labor and Industry, and MDH are working with the business community and labor leaders to adopt the right principles and protocols we would need to make sure the reentry into our economy is done safely with the proper social distancing precautions in place.
- “Our team is just working methodically to get a recommendation to the governor about when businesses could safely begin reopening,” Grove said. “But above all, those decisions would be based on facts and science and the last thing we want to do is extend this pandemic any longer than necessary by opening up something too quickly and putting more people at risk.”
Other notes from the conference call:
- According to the governor, restaurants will look different when we get them open. For instance, they’ll probably have fewer tables. Or maybe the outdoor patios are the way to go.
- Regarding testing, the governor said he’s optimistic Minnesota can ramp up testing in the short run. He hopes any tests developed by Minnesota companies or health care systems won’t be co-opted by the federal government.
- Commissioner Malcolm said there’s been “good conversations” with the health care systems on ramping up testing and making sure we get fast turnaround time.
- Governor said there is a definite concern that what happened at the meat processing plant in South Dakota could happen here. Commissioner Malcolm said we’re in “good shape” in terms of the availability of hospital beds and ventilators in parts of the state with meat packing plants.
- Governor says “We’re going to need this testing because this is not going to be the last time this thing happens. Now certainly there will hopefully be some herd immunity, but the herd immunity aspect where people say ‘let’s just let us all get it cause a lot aren’t going to get sick’ is incredibly dangerous to the large number who are vulnerable, and we don’t know how long it’s going to last.”
- Governor says “I wish we could stop this today. I wish I could say, ‘You know what. It’s magically over. We can all go back to work. We can all go down to the restaurant or whatever. But that will kill people.'”
- Governor says, “There is a limit to everyone’s patience, and in this case, running out of patience might not just endanger you, it might endanger your neighbor or someone else.”
- Governor says, “I am sick of this, and I want this to get done as quickly and as smartly as we possibly can. And I think we’re well positioned because of that massive health infrastructure that’s already here.”
- Commissioner Malcolm said “there still needs to be real care taken to assess the accuracy and the validity” of the large number of COVID-19 tests that the FDA has approved.
- Governor says, “My hope is that we start to see significant improvements and significant testing data by that May 4 date, and then that will help inform us, along with numerous other touchstones that we’re looking at, to what we can do and what we can change.”