5-15-2020 COVID-19 Update from the MN Department of Health
Minnesota Department of Health COVID-19 Update 5-15-2020
The Minnesota Department of Health held a conference call Friday to brief members of the media on the latest public health information regarding COVID-19.
MDH Commissioner Jan Malcolm:
- Globally 4.4 million cases, 302,000 deaths; US 1.4 million cases, 85,000 deaths
- MN has 14,240 total lab-confirmed cases during pandemic (up 808 since yesterday – single largest day total); 683 total deaths (up 20 since yesterday – 17 at long-term care facilities)
- 12-day doubling rate, improvement over last week, said Malcolm.
- Cases confirmed in all but three counties in MN
- 498 COVID-19 cases needing hospital care on Friday (net change of zero since yesterday), 200 needing intensive care.
- 8,820 Minnesotans have recovered from their lab-confirmed cases and are no longer required to isolate themselves.
- Testing continues to rise. 134,669 tests completed in MN so far (this includes MDH tests and external labs).
- 5,890 tests conducted Thursday (second highest testing day behind Wednesday), MDH reports. (You may recall Gov. Walz’s goal is to have 20,000 per day in a couple weeks)
- On May 19, flags to be flown at half-staff from sunrise to sunset to remember lives lost to COVID-19. (19th of every month through 2020 under Gov. Walz order)
- “Please isolate” if you are sick, said Malcolm.
MDH Infectious Disease Division Director Kris Ehresmann:
- Urges Minnesotans to continue social-distancing guidelines: wear a mask, stay at least six feet people from people, social gatherings no more than 10
- Visitor restrictions remain in place at long-term care facilities
- Minnesota National Guard called to fill staffing shortages at long-term-care facilities are “trained medical professionals.” Wanted to clear that up.
- MDH expects 460 contact investigators on staff by the end of this week
- They interview infected people infected to identify others possibly exposed to virus.
- Investigators continue to use federal threshold, which says people at medium risk for infection if they spent 15 minutes within six feet of someone carrying the virus.
- “If someone with COVID coughs in your face, then the 15 minutes doesn’t matter,” Ehresmann said at previous briefing.
MDH State Epidemiologist Ruth Lynfield:
- Health alert sent out about new condition first recognized in Europe and New York
- Multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) may be connected to SARS-coV-2,
- Children get fever, inflammation, abdominal pains, diarrhea or vomiting, pink eyes, symptoms similar to Kawasaki Disease
- Some children getting very seriously ill, more than two organs impacted, said Lynfield. This is the multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C).
- Some children with syndrome found to be positive for novel coronavirus.
- “We’re learning more about complications that may be occurring,” said Lynfield. “We need to look into this more.”
- Asking parents to watch out for this, contact your primary clinician.
- Question, what about the dial for percent of cases with no-known exposure? Answer: We’re assuming their exposure came through a community setting (when we’re talking about ‘no-known exposure,’ said Ehresmann, as opposed to say long-term care contact).
- MDH uses 30 percent ‘breakpoint’ for community spread. “We do want to break that measure down,” said Lynfield. The breakpoint of 30 percent is “our best guess” to help determine how rapidly virus is spreading. Above 30 percent for community case exposure means higher spread. MDH trying to refine that.
- On underlying health conditions – people who died, what is most common? Answer: Tend to have multiple medical conditions, including asthma, diabetes, obesity. 30 percent of Minnesotans have underlying health conditions, a very significant number, said Ehresmann.
- “This is a large portion of our population,” one reason stay-at-home order put in place, said Ehresmann.
- Some people who are younger don’t have underlying conditions, but can still get COVID-19. That’s why “we have to take this virus seriously,” said Lynfield.
- More on children developing symptoms related to novel coronavirus – Lynfield: we’re gathering the data on young children to adolescents.
- Kawasaki Disease is condition that typically occurs to children under age 5, fever for five days, red eyes, inflamed red cracking lips, strawberry-like tongue, swollen hands and feet. Those children can develop coronary artery aneurysms
- Noticing symptoms in COVID similar to Kawasaki Disease in children. “The number of increase much higher than expected,” said Lynfield. 100 children in New York, including 3 deaths associated with multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C)
- “The syndrome is thought to be rare,” said Lynfied. It’s important to note MOST of the children have gotten better, said Lynfield.
- Try to keep in household groups as much as you can, said Lynfield. This will help.
- 176 COVID-19 cases from birth to age 5, 763 cases for age 6 to 19; 27 hospitalizations for COVID-19 in MN, no deaths, said Ehresmann.
- Long-term care facilities – how well compared to other states? Malcolm: “We will come back to that question,” she said. “Trying to define the universe the same way.” Looking for apples-to-apples comparison. Skilled nursing facilities (nursing homes) need to report cases to CDC, Minnesota has reported broad range of congregate care settings, including assisted living.
- Malcolm hopes to provide better answer next week
- Does somebody die OF COVID-19 disease or WITH COVID-19 disease? Other conditions contribute to death too. MDH says “it’s an important question.” Trying to make sure reporting is consistent. State counts positive COVID-19 test as a COVID-19 death.
- Anticipating number of peak cases in Lakes Country (northwest Minnesota)? Malcolm: We don’t have any geographic specific projections at a county level, only state level. We have good health care capacity around whole state, she said.
- On reopening bars and restaurants possibly June 1 – what are the guidelines? Malcolm: “We are working on that literally over the next days,” she said. Will focus heavily on social distancing, limits on patrons based on size of restaurants, screening wait and cook staff, that kind of guidance. Guidance will be available before opening dates.
- How will Wisconsin “Wild Wild West,” as Wis. Gov. Evers called it after court ruling, affect Minnesota? Malcolm: could impact border communities, perhaps beyond that. “It will be a tougher, tougher challenge” to predict with confidence.
- Monitoring cases along border, said Ehresmann
- MLB plan to start baseball in early July perhaps, are there concerns about enough testing? Malcolm: “I can’t comment on volume of testing.” The idea would be to play not in front of large crowds, recommended Malcolm. But traveling across the country is not something we’re seeing the rest of the economy do while case counts are still rising. I have “a little bit of concern about that,” said Malcolm.
- MLB envisions playing without fans in stands, per latest reports
- “We need to building our planning around living with (the virus) for quite some time,” said Malcolm. Don’t envision full stadiums, she said.