7-17-2020 COVID-19 Update from the MN Department of Health
Minnesota Department of Health COVID-19 Update 7-17-2020
The Minnesota Department of Health held a conference call Wednesday to brief members of the media on the latest public health information regarding COVID-19.
MDH Commissioner Jan Malcolm:
- Globally, 13.9 million cases; 593,000 deaths
- In U.S., 3.7 million cases; 141,000 deaths
- In Minnesota, there are 45,013 confirmed cases (up 669 – third straight in 600 range); 1,533 deaths (up 7)
- All of the deaths reported Friday involved people 60 or older
- Hospitalized as of today in MN: 252, Hospitalized in ICU as of today: 110 (up 7 over day prior)
- Hospitalization levels remain lowest since mid-April in Minnesota
- 14,683 tests for COVID-19 conducted yesterday, “stable testing volume”
- Median age for cases in MN continues to trend downward
- Testing positivity rate is 4.7%, up over last week (4.5%)
- Continues to hear complaints about too many people crunched together in restaurants/bars, not wearing masks.
- 120 complaints total
- Most common complaint: “Employees not wearing masks”
- “We’re stepping up enforcement not to play gotcha with restaurants and bars, but because we feel so strongly that following these requirements is so essential to help reduce the spread of COVID-19, to protect the customers and staff.”
- “We appreciate that very many operators and establishments are working hard to do the right thing.”
- Minnesota Department of Health working with restaurants/bars on guidance compliance
MDH Infectious Diseases Director Kris Ehresmann:
- Experiencing challenges with testing, including dwindling supplies.
- MDH does not recommend, ‘actually discourages’ requiring a negative test to return to work, child care, attend a camp, participate in sports, etc. “Many facilities are doing this,” she said. Not enough testing supplies.
- “A negative test only means that you are negative on that day,” said Ehresmann. You could test positive the next day.
- If you show symptoms, stay away from workplace, activities for at least 10 days after symptoms started. You also have to have at least 3 days without symptoms, said Ehresmann. People who are symptomatic should get tested.
- Incubation period is 2-14 days (time the virus could show symptoms)
- Want to make sure resources are prioritized for groups who had exposure or those with symptoms.
Q&A Session and Notes:
- Why is spread of cases on the rise with unknown source of transmission? (up 9% since late June) Ehresmann: Community spread of unknown source is something we monitor closely. More people are falling into that category.
- At least 30% of cases are not due to outbreaks of known origin, but community transmission of unknown source.
- We know a significant number cases, and thus spread of the virus, may be asymptomatic (without symptoms)
- This underscores importance of wearing masks, social distancing, said Ehresmann.
- “We’re seeing much, much more activity,” said Ehresmann, referring to people going to events, camps, people mixing and not following guidance.
- On testing supply shortages, and personal protective equipment (PPE) supply-chain. Update? Concerns? Malcolm: We have “decent” supply levels of PPE on hand. There are supply-chain challenges.
- “We’ve had (lab) testing supplies diverted,” added Ehresmann. These testing supplies instead went to emerging hot spots across country, including Texas, California, Florida.
- On complaints against bars and restaurants, what are you doing for enforcement? Malcolm: We have reallocated staff to enforcement aspect. Could issue ‘cease and desist order’ if don’t follow compliance.
- “We’ve had good receptivity from the establishments,” said Malcolm.
- Would you need to ‘dial back’ when it comes to bars and restaurants? Malcolm: We do need to keep an eye on the risk spots. “It would be great if we can avoid dramatic actions of closing establishments altogether.” “In all candor, I don’t think anything can be considered completely off the table,” said Malcolm, referring what’s happening across the country.
- Ehresmann: some employers requiring two negative tests to return to work. Some activities requiring a negative test to participate. We discourage this if participants have no symptoms.
- What should we expect in next 2-3 weeks given rising numbers. Malcolm: Hospitalizations are a lagging indicator and deaths even more so.
- “I have not marked a date on my calendar,” said Ehresmann on when we can expect spikes in cases, hospitalizations and deaths. “Next week, we will start to see our hospitalizations increase and we could start to see deaths increase as well,” she said. “Next week, don’t be surprised.”
- Test positivity rate is our best measure for overall COVID-19 prevalence, said Malcolm.
- On the argument of ‘you’re testing more, so you’re finding more,’: Malcolm: “We do expect there’s a positive relationship, but are they going up at about the same rate? Or are you able to test more and still finding proportionately the same or fewer number of cases.”
- Will you continue to do community testing if you’re discouraging asymptomatic testing (like what was done after George Floyd protests). Malcolm: We will keep doing that, since those communities may be underrepresented in testing that’s been done.
- 120 complaints against bars and restaurants. Do you also monitor social media? Malcolm, yeah, that is a source of some of the intelligence.
- Social media was used to learn about Minneapolis bars and issues with no social distancing/lack of masks.
- If supplies diverted to other states, what can you do for expected surge? Malcolm: Good questions we can dig into. “We’re feeling fairly good” on supplies both with hospitals and state reserves for next month or so. “We’re continuing to think about can we do even more” in procuring supplies.
- Ehresmann: We’ve confirmed diversions to other parts of country for testing supplies, but no diversions with PPE
- Ehresmann: Some of the PPE we received did not meet our standards, so won’t count in our supplies on hand.
- Some of the masks did not meet our standards, said Ehresmann. Gloves and gowns also a challenge, added Malcolm.