7-1-2020 COVID-19 Update from the MN Department of Health
Minnesota Department of Health COVID-19 Update 7-1-2020
On Wednesday, July 1, the Minnesota Department of Health held a conference call to brief members of the media on the latest public health information regarding COVID-19.
This is a summary of that call.
Update from MDH Commissioner Jan Malcolm:
- 10.4 million cases of COVID-19 worldwide, and 511,000 deaths
- 2.6 million cases in the U.S. and 127,000 deaths
- In MN, there are 426 new cases, bringing the overall total to 36,716 total cases
- The 426 new cases was on a testing volume of 12,000 tests
- The 7-day rolling average test positivity rate is now at 3.7 percent, which is up a bit from the 3.3 percent test positivity rate over the 7-day rolling average from the prior week. This is still “very good” in terms of control of the epidemic.
- 16.7 percent was the increase in the total number of tests done week-over-week
- The median age of Minnesota cases continues to fall — 38.9 is the median age
- There are 260 patients in the hospital and 125 in ICU. This is the lowest level of ICU utilization since the end of April
- Four additional deaths in MN. All four were elderly residents of congregate care facilities.
- During the 4th of July holiday weekend, we need to stay vigilant about COVID-19. If you celebrate, try to do it just with the people in your own household. But if you do get together, keep your group sizes limited and stay outdoors. Social distancing and the wearing of masks is critically important.
- Young adults are not invincible, and neither are their loved-ones. If you’re visiting bars, spread out, wear a mask, and carry hand sanitizer with you.
- We know that COVID-19 is affecting Minnesotans of color and American Indians disproportionately. Many in those communities use commercial tobacco products. It’s very clear that smoking tobacco can compromise people’s immune systems, putting people at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19.
- The state health department has resources available to help people stop smoking or vaping. You can get free help by going to https://www.quitpartnermn.com/
Update from MDH State Epidemiologist and Medical Advisor Dr. Ruth Lynfield:
- MN has just completed a seroprevalence study in collaboration with the University of Minnesota. This involved leftover plasma samples from 983 blood donors who had made donations been June 8-20 at Memorial Blood Center sites in the Twin Cities metro area and northeastern Minnesota. And overall, the seroprevalence was 1.2 percent. Be mindful that blood bank donors are not representative of all populations in MN, and we do have some additional studies planned to be able to look at a number of communities and other populations. The MDH will share those results as they get them.
- MDH just received a shipment of remdesivir — 1,680 vials. If you are doing a five-day course, it is 6 vials, a 10-day course is 11 vials, so this would work out to be approximately 280 five-day courses, or 152 ten-day courses. Typically it ends up somewhere in the middle.
- This was the 7th shipment of remdesivir Minnesota has received.
- Multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MISC) is a syndrome that has showed up in children. It appears to be associated with COVID-19. MN now has 13 children who meet the criteria for this syndrome. They developed symptoms between May 17 and June 19. Of Minnesota’s 13 cases, 77% were male. Eight required care in the ICU, there were no deaths, and the average age was 5. Seventy-three percent had no prior medical condition.
Update from Dr. John Hick from Hennepin Healthcare:
- We’re grateful that we’re seeing a COVID-19 plateau
- There are continued shortages of some parts of PPE. For a long time we were having trouble getting face masks and gowns, but we’ve seen improvement in those supply chains.
- There continues to be a shortage of N-95 masks, but 3M should help with that in the future
- They continue to plan for expanded capacity at hospitals in case there’s a large surge of patients
- The state has temporarily leased a space in Roseville at a former long-term care facility in case there’s a need for alternate care sites due to hospital capacity overflowing
- The health care systems continue to share significant knowledge with each other. But finding a magic bullet for COVID-19 isn’t realistic. Keeping the virus at bay, however, is possible. Remdesivir and dexamethasone are proving to be helpful.
- Each week that goes by, we learn a little bit more about how to treat COVID-19 patients effectively.
- Our outcomes continue to improve. We hope to continue to buy time, continue to learn, and get more robust resources into MN.
- Social distancing and mask wearing is still important
Additional notes from the meeting:
- Commissioner Malcolm said there’s an issue where asymptomatic people are getting charged for their COVID-19 tests. That continues to be a “work in progress.” The state has every intention to make sure that cost is not a barrier to people getting these tests. The state is “in dialogue” with insurers. If people have been billed for a COVID-19 test, they can file complaints with the state health department or the state commerce department.
- A reporter asked about the tipping point for closing bars. Malcolm said they’ve had a lot of conversations with leaders in the hospitality industry. The hospitality industry has sent messages out to their members to make sure that they’re following the state’s executive orders about capacity, etc. The state is also trying to make sure that bars understand the consequences of violating these orders. The public also needs to understand that these are not suggestions, these are rules that need to be followed. Malcolm says there are challenges to the bar environment (i.e., having people seated as opposed to standing around).
- MN has now had over 300 cases associated with bars in the metro, St. Cloud and Mankato. The message really is that people need to take this seriously. If you go to a bar, go in small groups. Wear a mask when you’re not drinking. Stay seated. Stay separated. MDH is asking the public to take this seriously.
- A reporter asked a question about whether the state should mandate the wearing of masks. The MDH does recommend it becomes a requirement at the statewide level. The governor is “seriously considering it,” according to Malcolm.
- A reporter asked a question about what the threshold would be for the MDH to release information about businesses that are COVID-19 hotspots. The MDH is now looking at the data and discussing this very issue.
- Malcolm says CVS advertises a no-billing policy for the COVID-19 testing they administer
- A reporter asked a question about flights and whether there’s any special guidance for airports or people who travel. Malcolm says they’re aware that the airline industry has been trying to figure out how to make traveling safer. People should also be mindful of where they’re traveling and whether they have a plan of what to do if they develop symptoms. People should be especially careful of good hand hygiene and wiping down surfaces. Limit exposure to crowds and wear masks. It needs to be an individual risk-benefit calculation.
- A reporter asked a question about the 1.2 percent seroprevelance number. Amongst this group of donors, there were very few that were infected with COVID-19. The MDH expected it to be a little bit more. But 1.2 percent for a group of healthy adults certainly is plausible. It is great that there have been people who have been uninfected, it also means that we have a large population of people that are at risk. So until we get an effective vaccine we have to do everything we can to help people from being infected. Meanwhile, to actually achieve “herd immunity” we would need to be at about 60% or 70%, so we have a long way to go. Based on initial data, the immunity may last a couple of months to a couple of years, so we would have to learn more about this. This virus is going to be with us for “a while.”