6-1-2020 COVID-19 Update from the MN Department of Health
Minnesota Department of Health COVID-19 Update 6-1-2020
The Minnesota Department of Health will held a conference call today to brief members of the media on the latest public health information regarding COVID-19.
MDH Commissioner Jan Malcolm:
- Acknowledged George Floyd situation and events in last week. Some have said this is one of the most “turbulent expressions of social unrest and protest since the late 1960s.”
- MDH has tried to document and call attention to health disparities “literally for decades,” said Malcolm.
- Published a state health report 20 years ago that linked socioeconomic conditions with health outcomes.
- Six years ago, MHD released a report that called out the structural barriers that systematically prevent some of our people from reaching their highest potential for good health
- Structural barriers and racism contributes to persistent and glaring health disparities, which Malcolm says “are some of the worst in the nation” for people of color.
- “It’s frankly frustratingly little progress” in trying to address disparities, she said.
- More than 22% of COVID-19 cases and more than 20% are black Americans, but blacks make up only about 6.6% of state’s population.
- Hispanic population has nearly 20% of COVID-19 cases, but make up 5.5% of state’s population.
- Appreciated protesters wearing masks and handing out masks. “These actions are essential to protecting everyone’s familie s.”
A Look at the Numbers on June 1 (cases reported Sunday)
- Globally, 6.2 million cases, 372,000 deaths. In the United States 1.8 million cases, and more than 104,000 deaths in U.S.
- MN has 25,208 confirmed cases (up 361 cases), MN has 1,050 deaths since pandemic reached the state (up 10 deaths, lowest daily increase in two weeks) 8 of 10 deaths were residents of long-term care facilities.
- Daily case count in MN was lowest since late April.
- Cases doubling time is just over 20 days, shows Minnesota is “flattening the curve”
- 549 MN hospital patients (263 of those patients needing intensive care).
- 8,635 tests on Friday, about 7,000 on Saturday, 6,100 on Sunday. These are processed tests
- Reminds about reopening of outdoor dining and hair salons on June 1
MDH Infectious Disease Division Director Kris Ehresmann:
- Mentioned desperate need for blood donations. Encourage people to donate blood. Precautions are in place to limit risk.
- MDH had to close lab near state Capitol Thursday afternoon and through the weekend. “It’s an almost an unprecedented event.”
- Worked to preserve specimens collected during civil unrest. “There was a lot of work done quickly” to protect safety of staff and preserve specimens
Q&A Session & Notes:
- Expect protests to lead to a spike in COVID-19 cases? Answer: “We certainly think that’s possible,” said Malcolm. Loud talking and singing exacerbates spread, but is mitigated slightly because it’s outdoors. Encouraging people to be on “heightened alert” to monitor symptoms.
- Status of hospital capacity? Especially with injuries from riots, protests. Malcolm: “We are still within the range of current capacity.” “Overall we’re still above that threshold of at least 5% available capacity.” Not unprecedented demand right now. During regular flu season, ICU capacity can be at 95%
- We will revisit MN National Guard sites for testing when things calm down, though there isn’t necessarily overlap. Guard members assisting with testing have medical background, where Guard members protecting buildings have different training and not asked to do testing, says Ehresmann.
- Working on plans to expand testing availability
- Are we past peak? Malcolm: “It’s too early for any of us to declare a trend.” Though numbers are looking at more favorable, she said.
- Ehresmann: “Our emphasis is on testing in long-term care facilities.”
- We like “imagery of waves, rather than peak” Ehresmann referring to graph of COVID-19 case data.
- Are people under false impression about masks? Especially in light of the rallies. Malcolm: “We’ve always been careful to say masks certainly are not a panacea.” “However, they are helpful to mitigate risk.” Keeping physical distance is main priority. Protests, understandably, won’t help with social distancing.
- Dr. Ruth Lynfield: “Being outdoors is better than being in a very closed, confined, indoor type of setting.” “We will just have to wait and see what transpires,” on the COVID-19 data after protests.
- Asymptomatic transmission is a big concern. Should people protesting now go under quarantine to stay away from family members? Malcolm: “Absolutely, that would be optimally protective.”
- Lynfield: Especially, [protesters should] stay away from individuals with underlying health conditions, which there are many, including high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity
- Lynfield: The biggest risk is being in close proximity to others at prolonged periods of time, increases risk.
- Is contact tracing even possible with sheer number of protesters? Malcolm: “That’s a very good question.” It’s why we encourage people to be on heightened alert.
- Ehresmann: When MDH contact tracers interview people, they are asking whether they attended mass gatherings and events.
- Mayor of Atlanta advised all protesters to get tested. Why not in Minnesota? Ehresmann: “We will be doing that.” We are in the process of putting together materials. This includes asymptomatic testing of people.
- Ehresmann: Yes, asymptomatic protesters should get tested.
- Malcolm: If testing is done too early, however, it might pick up a false negative. There’s an incubation period and an optimal time for testing. That influences plans we’re doing now.
- Dr. Lynfied: 2-14 days for incubation period. Frequently, people typically get symptoms 5-7 days in. Expect impact of protests from this past week to be seen in 3 weeks. (accounts for testing time and incubation period)
- Role of Health Care Directions in deaths seen at Long-Term Care Facilities? Malcolm: There are a large percentage with advanced directives at LTC facilities. Some may make it clear that it’s their directive not to go to the hospital.