7-10-2020 COVID-19 Update from the MN Department of Health
Minnesota Department of Health COVID-19 Update 7-10-2020
On Friday, July 10, the Minnesota Department of Health held a conference call to brief members of the media on the latest public health information regarding COVID-19.
Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm:
- Globally, 12.3 million cases; 556,000 deaths
- In U.S., 3.17 million cases; 135,000 deaths
- Minnesota confirmed cases: 40,767 (up 609 – largest case total since early June); 1,495 deaths (up 5)
- Median age is 38.1 – this continues to drop.
- Unlike many other states, hospitalizations continue to decline: 227 hospitalized (down 24); 124 patients in intensive care unit (ICU)
- About 78% of those admitted to the hospital for COVID-19 have had at least one underlying health condition, according to MDH.
- 7-day rolling positivity rate is 4.5% (Last week it was 3.8%)
- 19,213 tests reported Thursday. (Gov. Tim Walz’s ‘moon shot’ goal was 20,000 per day)
- Donated program by Gilead of the drug remdesivir has ended. Remdesivir shown to reduce effects of COVID-19 in hospitalized patients. Hospitals would now need to purchase remdesivir.
MDH Infectious Diseases Director Kris Ehresmann:
- There are delays in getting test results. Strain on national laboratories due to increase in cases.
- Even though it can be ‘frustrating,’ people should stay home until they get results.
- ‘Serial testing’ is not recommended. This is getting tested over and over again.
- Ehresmann said some people getting tested every couple of days. Testing not a substitute for masking.
- Also warned about Brain-Eating Amoeba, Naegleria fowleri, in warm freshwater this time of year. “Keep your head out of the water, hold your nose shut, or use nose clips,” and not dig up sediment if you must swim in warm freshwater, said Ehresmann.
- Updating process to identify long-term care facilities with known exposures. Using 28-day timeframe (2 incubation periods) to remove facilities from list if no new known exposures.
New Essential Caregiver Guidance for Long-Term Care Facilities:
- New guidance would allow a family member to visit long-term care facilities if that family is deemed an essential caregiver.
- According to new guidance for essential caregivers (which could be a family member, outside caregiver, friend or volunteer), providers must talk to residents about their wishes to determine whom to designate as an essential caregiver, and facilities should establish policies for identifying and using essential caregivers no later than July 25, 2020.
- Given that COVID-19 is expected to remain a concern for months to come, caregivers and facilities will need to work together to ensure that infection control procedures are followed closely.
- The guidelines require caregivers to sign in and be screened prior to entering the building, just like facility staff.
- Caregivers must frequently wash their hands and use hand sanitizer and wear all necessary personal protective equipment while in the building (minimally eye protection and face mask).
- Facilities may restrict or revoke caregiver status if the caregiver fails to follow infection prevention rules.
- However, facilities are expected to talk to caregivers and attempt to address concerns before restricting or revoking visitations.
- Cheryl Hennen, Office of Ombudsman for Long-Term Care: “People are suffering and they’re dying from COVID-19, but also from loneliness.”
- Hennen: “People stop eating, people are not sleeping, people are not bathing,” elderly are experiencing significant declines by not being with their loved ones.
- Hennen tells of story of a patient who saw dramatic improvement after finally seeing their spouse of 57 years again
- Gayle Kvenvold, president/CEO of LeadingAge Minnesota: Prolonged physical separation takes an emotional and psychological toll.
- “This is absolutely the right next step, while still maintaining safety,” said Kvenvold.
- Patti Cullen, president/CEO of Care Providers of Minnesota: “We appreciate what this step will allow in many of our communities.”
- Cullen: We’re trying to maintain balance between safety and need for elderly to see their loved ones.
Q&A Session and Notes:
- Cases for kids 19 and younger have doubled in last couple months. Is this due to more testing? Ehresmann: It is a combination that testing is more available and we’ve moved away from shelter-in-place.
- “We want you to be able to participate in your sports” and other interactions, but please do so in a socially-distanced manner.
- Not seeing particular hot spots, unlike Edina mentioned in earlier MDH briefing.
- Will wait times for test results improve? Ehresmann: Labs in MN we’re seeing quick turnarounds. But some outside labs seeing as long as a week and a half. “There have been more delays.” It’s important not to circulate in society if you’re waiting for results
- Republican bill to leave school districts in charge of making decisions for fall schooling. Thought on this? Malcolm: Prefer consulting with Minn. Dept. of Education, but seeing differences with regions when it comes to COVID-19.
- Increase in metro suburbs? Ehresmann: Nothing in particular, again mentioned youth cases in Edina. “Don’t have specific hotspot answer for that.”
- Are working with Olmsted County, Rochester area. 39 new cases reported in one night there.
- Letter signed by 239 scientists that the novel coronavirus is spread by air droplets, including breathing, spread farther than six feet. Alter guidelines? Malcolm: We are “humbled daily” by what we don’t know. It’s not only masks, how close, but type of activity.
- “Things continue to evolve week over week.”
- Ehresmann: Wearing a mask reduces spread of aerosols. Six feet still makes a significant different. Beyond six feet, even more.
- Ehresmann: Yes, virus could be in someone’s breath,
- With positivity rates increasing, is new essential caregiving guidance a good idea? Malcolm: We acknowledge there’s a risk. But we also know PPE supplies are better. We’re trying to maintain an appropriate balance.