7-24 COVID-19 Update from the MN Department of Health
Minnesota Department of Health COVID-19 Update 7-24-2020
The Minnesota Department of Health held a conference call Friday to brief members of the media on the latest public health information regarding COVID-19.
MDH Commissioner Jan Malcolm:
- Globally, 15.5 million cases since pandemic began; 634,000 deaths
- Malcolm notes cases globally have re-emerged. Up 35% globally in last month. U.S., Brazil and India driving much of that case growth.
- U.S., 4.1 million cases since pandemic began; 147,000 deaths
- In Minnesota, 49,488 confirmed cases since pandemic began (up 773 over previous reporting day); 1,566 deaths (up 5 ).
- This is second consecutive day in MN with 700+ cases.
- Median age of cases is 36.0 years (this continues to drop). Median age was 40 one month ago.
- Two of the 5 deaths in long-term-care facilities.
- Mask mandate issued by MN Governor Tim Walz takes effect Saturday for all indoor businesses and public indoor places.
- People with breathing conditions that prevents them from wearing face coverings should make efforts to wear a face shield, Malcolm said.
- Hospitalizations- 278 patients with COVID-19 complications in MN; 108 of those in intensive care.
- 16,792 COVID-19 diagnostic tests reported at end of business Thursday. State has capacity to conduct at least 20,000 tests per day.
- 4.7% testing positivity rate (calculated as of July 15). Malcolm says there’s a week lag factor with the positivity rate.
MDH Infectious Diseases Director Kris Ehresmann:
- Federal officials met with MDH about increase in cases in Minnesota. MN receives regular reports from federal COVID response team, said Ehresmann
- Federal input helps with steps Minnesota can take that not already doing.
- Warns about scammers pretending to be state contact tracers. State does NOT ask for credit card information to send individuals a testing kit.
- “As we’re making choices about how we’re engaging socially, we need consider all the roles that we play,” said Ehresmann on younger people getting COVID-19. Do you work in a child care setting? Are you a health care worker? Do you have elderly grandparents? These roles are impacted by social decisions, especially involving crowded bars, said Ehresmann.
MN Dept. of Administration Commissioner Alice Roberts-Davis:
- Moved from “chaotic marketplace” for securing PPE for health care workers to a more stable one.
- There are renewed challenges given case growth in U.S, she said.
- “I’m not concerned with current status,” however, Roberts-Davis said.
- State warehouse is supplemental to health care providers.
- Hospital inventories highest they’ve been since start of pandemic.
- Today, gloves and N95 masks (hospital-grade masks) have been challenging to obtain with verified quality and state safety standard approval. Partnering with University of Minnesota to verify quality of masks before purchase.
Q&A Session and Notes:
- Will mask mandate work in helping reduce cases? Malcolm: “We do think that the data are clear masking helps.” But masks by themselves “aren’t a magic answer.” Very effective tool, but also need to social distance and stay home with symptoms.
- “We’ve been impressed by the data” in places with mask mandates. California has had increases despite mask mandate, illustrates importance of the other factors as well.
- It will take time to see impact, said Ehresmann. Could be 21 days after mandate to see impact. (This is because of incubation period, which can take from 2-14 days, plus allow time for testing and obtaining results)
- There is a vaping alert out as well with people experiencing severe lung injuries. How to tell difference with COVID-19? Ehresmann: A COVID test should be able to tell difference from EVALI (e-cigarette or vaping product use-associated lung injury)
- Ehresmann: Smoking or vaping can put you at extra risk for COVID-19, meaning more severe complications
- What will enforcement look like with mask mandate? Malcolm: The intent with the mandate is to reinforce the importance of wearing masks. “The intent is compliance not enforcement.” It is a petty misdemeanor if people willfully ignore order. Fine of up to $100.
- Malcolm: We advise washing cloth masks daily that are used. Paper masks intended for one-time use.
- On supply-chain concerns, Malcolm: “We’ve had reports of supplies being delayed.”
- How are important are testing turnaround times? “The faster the turnaround the better,” said Malcolm. Contact tracing can begin sooner.
- However, Ehresmann said, the messaging stays the same – continue to isolate yourself while waiting for test results
- The federal visits were done virtually, said Malcolm. “We’re glad we were able to exchange information,” Malcolm said. “Extremely complementary about depth of our data.”
- Notes “case growth has gone in wrong direction in last couple weeks,” said Malcolm.
- Driven by increases in social interaction, she said.
- Does Minnesota have plans to increase state lab testing to improve turnaround times? (As opposed to relying on outside labs). Malcolm: Yes, indeed, we are looking at that ourselves.