4-24-2020 COVID-19 Update from MN Governor Tim Walz and MDH
MN Governor Walz and the Minnesota Department of Health COVID-19 Update for 4-24-2020
Minnesota Governor Tim Walz COVID-19 Update:
- Announced new state testing website: https://mn.gov/covid19/for-minnesotans/if-sick/
- Spoke with Vice President Mike Pence today, (Pence will visit Minnesota on Tuesday)
- Canceling school for rest of academic year was “incredibly hard decision.”
- Brought on extra speakers, two students and two teachers to talk about distance learning
- Mentioned retirement of MN Supreme Court Justice David Lillehaug. A merit selection panel has recommended four candidates to fill vacancy, said Walz.
Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm:
- Global cases 2.7 million, 191,000 deaths. In U.S. 869,000 cases, approaching 50,000 deaths (an increase of 3,000 deaths)
- Confirmed cases in Minnesota: 3,185; Total deaths in Minnesota at 221), an increase of 21 — 18 of 21 residents of long-term care facilities. 16 in Hennepin County. 1 of the deceased in their 100s, 3 in their 90s.
- 278 people currently hospitalized in Minnesota due to COVID-19
Minnesota Department of Education Commissioner Mary Cathryn Ricker
- “We should be doing more and we will be doing more,” said Ricker. “We know distance learning isn’t going perfectly.”
- “Schools are not just educational spaces,” said Ricker. They are also important social spaces that help students connect
- If parents have questions about distance learning they should contact their school or if have additional concerns call MDE at 651-582-8200 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan
- “It’s going to take all of us to support our schools and communities.”
- Flanagan is a mom of a first-grader, who is distance learning.
- We’re going to take a serious look at inequities in our education system. These inequities have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Communities of color, indigenous communities, rural areas are places of education disparity, says Flanagan. “We cannot leave them behind.”
- Reminded about mental health resources: Throughout Minnesota: call **CRISIS (**274747)
Crisis Text Line: is available for free, 24/7 by texting MN to 741741
Students and Teachers speak
- Claire Murphy, a St. Paul fifth-grader also spoke:
- “It’s hard. We’ve never had to do this before. But we want to stay healthy and safe and make sure our family, friends and neighbors stay healthy and safe too. We can do this.”
- Murphy, like so many others, didn’t get to say goodbye to teachers and friends before the school year ended, which makes her sad.
- Another student, a Rochester High School senior, also spoke:
- “Thank to you all the teachers who helped this transition a little easier,”
- “This is not the end of our journey.. This may be one of the defining moments of our generation.”
- High-school math teacher Glazell Toledo Intermediate District 287: speaks about students who have had to work to help their parents make ends meet.
- “This hits home to me personally and professionally.”
- Toledo, a Filipino, highlighted unjust attacks against Asian-Americans. She has faced discrimination from others during this crisis. She says it has caused her to worry for herself, her family and students.
- Angela Forland – 3rd Grade – Kingsland Public Schools, spoke of how poor internet connections impacted her ability to do job. Woke up at 1 a.m. to get better connection. Forland teaches in a rural community.
- Distance learning is uncharted territory for most Minnesota educators, students and parents, said Forland. But the challenges are even greater for those lacking access to high-speed internet or who have poor connections. We live this every day, she said.
- Forland went back to the classroom to do her job despite stay-at-home order. Called for need for better broadband services in rural communities.
MN DEED Commissioner Steve Grove (provided information via press release)
- The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) announced today that the agency has begun making Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) payments to people who are self-employed, independent contractors, and other eligible recipients who are not eligible for regular unemployment benefits.
- PUA is a new program that was authorized by Congress in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) and signed into law on March 27, 2020.
- What about attendance during distance learning? Walz: “We are concerned” Some students “aren’t checking in because they don’t want to it’s because they can’t.” Ricker says attendance is more focused not necessarily on accountability but student wellness. No answer on definitive numbers.
- What about extending May 4 stay-at-home order? Walz: “We’re trying to get that out as quickly as possible.” No decision yet. Current order in effect until May 4. “I don’t want to be driven by an arbitrary date.”
- What comfort level of state’s readiness? Walz: “It’s guardedly optimistic.” I think the PPE [personal protective equipment] supply-chain is becoming a little more clarified. “Anyone who needs critical care will get it.”
- On testing locations (via state’s new testing website), north Minneapolis only has two testing locations. Some counties with no locations. Will testing capacity increase? Answer from Walz: “As soon as possible,” referring to counties without testing locations. Goal was May 4.
- On long-term care facility outbreaks – MN infectious disease expert Kris Ehresmann: “We want to have a more robust system to address this” “The goal is to get ahead of the situation.” At least 172 facilities have a case, 820 resident cases, 303 health care worker cases over span of several weeks. Keep in mind, some of these workers have recovered, said Ehresmann.
- Update on meat-processing plants: Testing is ongoing at JBS plant in Worthington, site of major outbreak, said infectious disease expert Kris Ehresmann.