6-29-2020 COVID-19 Update from Gov. Walz and the MN Department of Health
Minnesota Department of Health COVID-19 Update 6-29-2020
On Monday, June 29, Governor Tim Walz held a press conference to highlight a COVID-19 testing milestone in Minnesota.
This is a summary of that news conference:
Update from Gov. Walz:
- Minnesota has tested over half a million COVID-19 tests
- Minnesota now has the capacity to test 20,000 people a day
- Collaboration among U of M, Mayo Clinic, health systems, and other suppliers that made the testing possible.
- Put us in a position to have an accurate representation of where the virus is in MN
- Giving us the ability to ramp up our contact tracing to match the testing volume
- We need to be able to test, trace and isolate until we have a vaccine.
- Our cases have plateaued. As we’re testing more, we’re finding more.
- The testing is not what causes the positivity. What we’re able to do with more testing is have a bigger pictures and a broader footprint.
- We’re looking at daily positive rates of those tests, the percentage of positive tests gives us a good idea of the spread.
- Today we’re at about 4.18%, it was a little bit of a tick, but we’ve been going up and down.
- That’s significantly better than Arizona where they’re at 14%
- We have one of the major tools necessary to weather the long-haul of this vaccine with a robust testing infrastructure
- We still need to social distance, wear masks, and have a smart reintegration of our economy.
- It’s not good enough to open up your economy if you can’t keep it open.
- States having problems now, the percentage of their population tested is around 5 percent or 6 percent instead of being at the 10 percent they need.
- We are still deeply into the longer winter of COVID
Update from Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm:
- More than 10 million people have been infected by COVID-19 worldwide.
- More than 500,000 people have died from COVID-19
- In the U.S., we’re at 2.5 million cases and 125,000 deaths
- In MN, we’re at 35,861 cases (up 315 from yesterday) and we had 10 additional deaths yesterday, bringing the total of 1,435 deaths
- Hospitalization in MN: 10 fewer patients were hospitalized yesterday compared to the prior day; 278 people are in the hospital as of now, with 140 of those patients in the ICU.
- It’s the lowest level of ICU utilization in MN since May 1
- We continue to see a peak and valley pattern
- Saturday’s number of 520 cases is the largest we’ve seen in MN since June 4, the 235 cases we saw a week prior was the most recent valley.
- Keep in mind that what we’re seeing in case counts today reflect exposures that happened 2 or 3 weeks ago. So we expect our daily numbers to continue to fluctuate or possibly go up a bit as we see more people going out and gathering, or transmission of people who may not even know they’ve been infected to other people
- Sadly, we are all a part of the transmission chain and need to act accordingly
- The seven-day average positivity rate is 4.4 at this point so we’re watching week over week
- Over the last week, we tested, on average 11,240 tests per day. That volume is an increase of 16.4% of tests per day over the prior week.
- Minnesota can test who we need to, when we need to, to help people make decisions to protect themselves and their loved-ones and their communities.
- With the capacity now to test 20,000 people in a day, this puts us in a position that many other states don’t have
- We strongly encourage people to please get tested if they’re feeling ill, or if they’re concerned about an exposure they might have had. Even if you don’t have symptoms, please get tested.
Update from U of M Medical School Vice Dean for Research Tim Schacker, M.D.:
- The U of M is committed to COVID-19 testing and the partnership
- We are up to the task and we will be there
Update from William Morice, M.D., Ph.D., President of Mayo Clinic Laboratories and Chair of the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology:
- So far, through Mayo Clinic labs we’ve been able to expand the testing capacity for the state
- We’ve been able to use that to provide free testing to those involved in the social unrest — protesters and first-responders
- We’ve been able to get testing where it’s needed across the state when it needs to be there
- Every health system in the state has stepped up
- As we reopen the state, there are many others who need access to testing to safely do so. They’ve been partnering with public, private entities, and corporations to understand what the needs are of people who work there.
- Global supply chain will continue to be stressed during the COVID pandemic
Additional notes from the meeting:
- Walz says we’re gonna have to learn to live with and manage COVID-19 for quite some time.
- Walz says he believes we have the capacity to maintain the testing for the long-haul, “That gives us a real advantage, I think, of keeping our economy as open as we can.”
- A reporter asked a question about why Minnesota has the capacity to do 20,000 tests a day but hasn’t actually conducted that many in a day. Walz says it may be due to the fact that that people didn’t think they should come in. He now encourages everyone to get tested.
- Walz says people should not be getting turned if they want a COVID-19 test.
- Malcolm says it will vary from day-to-day or clinic-to-clinic what that individual site is able to do. Those are private decisions that the systems make.
- The MDH’s most recent guidance made it clear that asymptomatic people should be tested if they have reason to believe that they’ve been exposed. However, that’s just guidance.
- Malcolm received a question as to whether she was concerned about an increase of cases around the July 4th holiday. She said, “It is a concern.” But she keeps reinforcing the idea of social distancing and wearing masks, as some people may have COVID-19 without even knowing it.
- Much of the antibody testing done in Minnesota has been done on select populations. We don’t have a lot of data yet.
- Walz says it’s not his intention to do a “victory lap” about how Minnesota has done better than other states.
- Walz says there are lessons to be learned from states that managed things a little differently.
- Walz says bars are hotspots for COVID-19
- Walz says if we had a 95% mask usage rate, from now until October we would save 33,000 lives.
- There has been a lot of work in the lab testing community to make sure that the serology tests are of adequate quality to ensure that scientists are getting good information.
- The governor was asked whether he would mandate the wearing of masks in Minnesota. He said, “it’s part of the decision-making” and “everything’s on the table.”
- The governor was asked a question about having kids back in school in the fall and whether they would wear masks. He said the state is evaluating and they’re “relying on the experts.”
- Malcolm says bars need to accommodate seating only, not standing. When complaints come in, it’s up to local law enforcement to make the business owner aware of the regulations. Malcolm says there are plans to make it more clear to bar owners what the consequences are of failing to comply with the guidance.
- There are roughly 100 cases of COVID-19 cases in the Twin Cities related to bars, and 200 in Mankato.
- If rules aren’t followed in bars, that will call for stronger mitigation measures.
- Malcolm believes that 98 percent of the people dying from COVID-19 have underlying health conditions
- Walz defended the decision for the state to purchase a building in St. Paul that could be used as a temporary morgue for COVID-19 deaths.
- Walz says a decision on another special session should come by the end of this week. A potential date could be July 10.