5-8-2020 COVID-19 Update from MN Governor Walz and MDH
MN Governor Walz and the Minnesota Department of Health COVID-19 Update for 5-8-2020
Watch the COVID-19 Update from MN Governor Walz for 5-7-2020 Here
Governor Tim Walz Update:
- Graduation ceremonies will not be allowed indoors or in football stadiums.
- The guidelines from the departments of Health, Education and Higher Education recommend schools hold a ceremony that can be conducted remotely and ensure attendees do not need to leave their homes.
- Our death rates up again, at a steady pace. “We’re still in the thick of this fight,” said Walz.
- Reminds people how COVID-19 is the “great unequalizer.”
- Calls on Minnesota legislature to replenish and extend $200 million fund to protect Minnesotans from COVID-19, buying testing materials, PPE, prepare alternate care sites, etc.
- On March 19, the Governor signed into law the $200 million fund to provide resources to protect Minnesotans from COVID-19 and maintain state government operations during this crisis. Currently, $65 million remain in the fund, which is currently set to expire on May 11.
Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan:
- Minnesotans “doing a good job of social distancing”
- COVID-19 exacerbating racial and education inequities in the state, noting again how blacks, Hispanics and indigenous communities are impacted disproportionately in COVID-19 cases.
- MDH Commissioner Jan Malcolm noted that blacks represent nearly 17 percent of all cases despite 6.6 percent of population total; Hispanics nearly 14 percent of COVID-19 cases despite 5.5 percent of population
- Malcolm notes diabetes and other underlying health conditions contribute to the disparities.
- Types of jobs also creates increased risks, such as meat-packing processing facilities and African immigrant workforce in long-term care
- Leading work group to address racial inequities in the state to develop near and long-term strategies.
- 31 percent of black labor force applied for unemployment insurance due to COVID-19 pandemic in MN, 29.8 percent for American Indian, 20.8 percent for Hispanics, 22.4 for Asian labor force.
- “We cannot allow these communities to remain invisible,” said Flanagan.
Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm:
- Globally, 3.86 million cases, 269,000 deaths; 1.25 million cases , 75,600 death in U.S. “Pace of these increases is really pretty staggering,” said Malcolm.
- 10,088 confirmed cases in MN (up 720), 534 deaths (up 26 – 25 at long-term care facilities)
- 473 of new cases required hospitalization, compared with 435 on Thursday; 198 patients in ICU
- Since first Minnesota case March 6, a total of 1,549 people have been hospitalized
- Residents of long-term care and assisted living facilities account for 434 deaths, about 80 percent of death toll
- Testing volume around 3,900, says Malcolm. (Goal was 5,000 per day at this point)
- Highlighted antiviral drug Remdesivir, made by Gilead, which shows in early clinical trials to speed up recovery by 30 percent. Minnesota expects limited shipments of the drug from federal level.
Q&A Session and Notes
- $6.9 million plan for temporary storage of human remains included in MN COVID-19 relief fund. What is it for? Joe Kelly with MN Homeland Security: “It’s an uncomfortable topic.. We need to have a plan for a large number of deaths.” “We need to handle surge of fatalities.” What we’ve seen in Italy and New York “we don’t think is acceptable,” said Kelly.
- There’s a slowdown/backlog in funerals and burials, want to have necessary capacity that “preserves dignity,” said Kelly.
- State plans to buy warehouse facility, due to ongoing negotiations, couldn’t reveal location.
- Guidance on graduation ceremonies: Some Republican lawmakers upset about “one-size hurts all approach.” Some graduating classes small enough, believes some lawmakers. “This pains me like all of these decisions,” said Walz. “I need to listen to the health experts on this.”
- The curve is only going to get steeper, said Malcolm. “People should not be gathering in groups outside their immediate household,” she said.
- “This situation does not lend itself to good adherence to social distancing,” said Malcolm.
- On small-family gatherings, could move up dial after May 18. “We will be discussing the size of gatherings further in the next coming days,” said Malcolm.
- No modeling update, running confidence tests on model. [Note model will show whether MN is “flattening the curve.”] “I apologize for the delay,” said Malcolm. MDH will be putting “source code” online and run model early in the week next week.
- On homeless communities of color who tested positive? Lt. Flanagan: homeless black & Native Americans experiencing disproportionate COVID-19 test rates. “We expect those numbers to likely go up as we increase testing capacity,” said Flanagan. Working on additional specific numbers.
- MDH tracking “hot spots.” Malcolm: “We need to test more broadly in shelters,” she said.
- Lt. Gov. Flanagan says there’s need to be more isolation spaces.
- On counties that haven’t recorded positive cases yet. Will there be more testing? “This is glaringly apparent in MN and nationally that the lack of testing blinded us,” said Gov. Walz.
- State has capacity to do 10,000 tests per day, says Walz, but right now only does 4,000 per day.
- MDH putting together additional funding for “surveillance testing,” in areas of state with little to no testing.
- Encourages all symptomatic people to get those tests. Malcolm says providers say not enough people are coming in to get tested. State needs to do more outreach.
- On extending stay-at-home order? “It’s the question that we answer everyday,” said Walz. “These are horrible choices, there are no good choices,” he said. “Just opening up again, there’s no guarantee customers will be there.” Wants to reopen bars and restaurants safely, needs more testing and contact tracing.
- “[Customers] are not going to go back if they don’t feel safe,” said Walz.
- On reopening now: Walz: This would be the equivalent of New York opening up again right before their peak.
- “The idea of gathering together because you can, yes, but it also puts others at risk.”
- “I don’t think it will be the businesses putting people at risk, I think it will be customers not adhering to some of the [social distancing] rules.” “That this is a choice between health and economic destruction is one that we cannot make. It has to be a line between them.”
- There are very few states that receive fewer federal dollars than Minnesota
- Walz encourages people to donate blood, noting it’s World Red Cross Day.
Current status of MN Governor’s safety dials to reopen the state: