5-22-2020 COVID-19 Update from the MN Department of Health
Minnesota Department of Health COVID-19 Update 5-22-2020
On Friday, May 22, the Minnesota Department of Health is expected to hold a conference call to brief members of the media on the latest public health information regarding COVID-19.
The following is a summary of that media briefing.
MN Stay Safe Safety Plan released Wednesday
Latest COVID-19 Updates
**NOTE: no usual 2 p.m. MDH briefing was held, however, a 3:30 p.m. briefing took place.
- Minnesota to offer COVID-19 testing at six sites across state this weekend. Sites are hosted by the Minnesota National Guard, Minnesota Department of Health and the State Emergency Operations Center.
- Starting Saturday, May 23, through Monday, May 25, the following National Guard facilities will be open to conduct COVID-19 testing through the weekend from 10 A.M. – 5 P.M. daily (or until supplies are exhausted):
East St Paul – 1530 Maryland Ave E, St Paul, MN 55106
Minneapolis Armory – 1025 Broadway St. NE, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55413.
Moorhead Armory – 1002 15th Ave N, Moorhead, MN 56560
Duluth Armory – 4015 Airpark Blvd, Duluth, MN 55811
Faribault Armory – 3000 W Airport Rd, Faribault, MN 55021
St. James Armory – 521 Armstrong Blvd N, St James, MN 56081
Who can be tested?
Any Minnesotan. We especially encourage those who are ill, and those who have been directly exposed to a known COVID-19 positive contact.
How will the testing take place?
No appointment is necessary. National Guard members will swab the inside of your nose and ask you to complete paperwork with your name and contact information so you can be contacted with results. Results will be provided by phone and expected with an average of 48 hours.
Is there a charge for the test?
There is no charge for the testing and Minnesotans will not be asked for insurance cards or ID.
Will there be future opportunities like this?
Future testing events depend on several factors, including demand demonstrated this weekend. Minnesotans can find other testing facilities as well as a symptom screening tool at https://mn.gov/covid19/for-minnesotans/if-sick/.
- Minnesota National Guard members will have the capacity to collect roughly 2,000 samples per day across six sites, for a total capacity of roughly 6,000 tests over the three-day weekend.
MDH Commissioner Jan Malcolm:
- Globally, 5.1 million cases; 333,000 deaths
- 1.57 million cases in U.S., more than 94,700 deaths in U.S.
- 19,005 total confirmed cases in Minnesota (up 813, a record high, 60% increase in one day) — This ends six-day downward trend; 842 total deaths in MN (up 33 Thursday— 27 in long-term care, the 33 deaths are also a new daily high in MN)
- Among the deaths, one person in their 30s.
- 233 of those patients needing intensive care, a new daily high
- 534 COVID-19 hospitalizations reported Friday, down 32 from Thursday, 233 of those patients needing intensive care, a new daily high
- African-Americans experiencing disproportionate burden of COVID-19 cases, 23% of cases now, up from previous May 1 update of 14%. African-Americans only 6% of MN population.
- 7,415 tests conducted yesterday, “We’re definitely moving in the right direction,” on testing, said Malcolm.
- “We need to learn to live with this virus,” said Malcolm. “It’s going to be with us for a while.”
MDH State Epidemiologist Dr. Ruth Lynfield:
- Asking Minnesotans for their patience.
- Be very careful about social distancing. When you’re sick, “please, please, stay home.”
- What about status of reopening church services, given President Trump expected order to override governor actions. Malcolm: “We are all anticipating additional guidance from CDC.” Governor has been in dialogue with faith leaders. Walz may release statement this afternoon.
- What is causing jump in cases in Rice County? Tied to Jennie-O plant? Malcolm: there are activities around food processing plants. No direct knowledge to specific question.
- What about hospital capacity? Reopening up to elective surgeries too soon? Malcolm: Most of the hospitals are getting tighter with ICU beds. Within 5% of regular ICU beds. “There’s good collaboration” between hospitals. This is due to steady increase in COVID-19 patients and surgeries restarting, said Malcolm. This daily load balancing will be an important function.
- Confidence in backup beds being ready, shortage of staffing? Malcolm: Not aware any hospitals opening up 24-hour “surge” beds from State Emergency Operations Center.
- What are priorities of state if churches reopen this weekend? Rules of worship? Malcolm: there have been studies done on outbreaks involving places of worship, led to state’s concern and restrictions, discourage people of higher risk from attending. Will recommend “very good” social distancing. No singing -“The data is pretty darn clear,” said Malcolm about singing and loud talking and how it disseminates droplets in the air. Outdoor gatherings should have limited sizes as well.
- Reaction to President Trump ordering churches to reopen: Malcolm: “We’re continuing to look at this.” Again, Walz in dialogue with faith leaders.
- Minneapolis now has one of the highest COVID-19 case positivity rates in country, behind Chicago, Baltimore, D.C. right now. Malcolm: “Cases can be fairly volatile, very quickly.” “The strategies remain the same.” Testing numbers need to go up. Community-based testing strategies will continue to increase.
- Dr. Lynfield: “We need to take social distancing seriously.” “It’s not high-tech, we know what to do to prevent transmission of this virus.” Virus appears in respiratory tract before they develop symptoms. People can transmit virus before they develop symptoms.
- Are testing sites announced today drive-through? Malcolm: They are not drive-through. People will need to park, and walk up to the buildings.
- Thoughts on face coverings? [Minneapolis Mayor Frey makes it mandatory indoors] Malcolm: “Data are really pretty good” that face coverings can reduce transmission to “a significant degree.” “Masks are absolutely not a panacea.” But in combination with social distancing, at least six feet, and avoiding large gatherings, masks “make a pretty dramatic difference in transmission.” [Dr. Osterholm, U of M infectious disease expert, per media reports today, says face coverings give people false sense of security. People stand too close to each other. Doesn’t believe they really help]
- Reaction to State Fair canceled? Malcolm: “That’s sad news” for all of us Minnesotans. Did have conversation with leaders of State Fair. It avoids what would be “a pretty predictable accelerator” of virus spread. Another indicator of what a disruptor this virus is.
- What is the latest on shipments of remdesivir (drug shown to speed up COVID-19 recovery)? Lynfield: we did get another shipment this week. Facilities should have it as of this morning. Enough to treat 159 patients with 10-day course. Some patients receive 5-day course. Not enough to treat every Minnesota with severe disease. Federal government did not say they would ship enough to cover every severely diseased patient. Gilead makes drug, there’s a limited supply.
- Remesivir not yet FDA approved drug, it’s on rapid track, under “emergency use authorization.”
- Lynfield: “We wish there was more remdesivir in the state”
- Expect higher testing numbers following National Guard sites opening up? Malcolm: Finding ways to increase testing is ongoing priority for us. Assessing reasons for barriers besides supply issue.