7-31 COVID-19 Update from MN Department of Health
Minnesota Department of Health COVID-19 Update 7-31-2020
The Minnesota Department of Health will hold a 2 p.m. conference call Friday to brief members of the media on the latest public health information regarding COVID-19.
MDH Commissioner Jan Malcolm:
- Globally, 17.3 million cases since pandemic began; 673,000 deaths
- In U.S, 4.4 million cases since pandemic began; 152,000 deaths
- In Minnesota, 54,463 cases since first confirmed case in March (up 779 cases since previous day)
- In Minnesota, 1,600 deaths so far (up 6 since day prior)
- Five of the 6 newly reported deaths reported Friday involved people 70 or older. One death involved a person in their late 20s from Olmsted County with underlying health conditions.
- Case growth now used as determining factor if or how schools reopen this fall (public schools in Hennepin County currently recommended for hybrid model for K-12 students with 20.93 new cases per 10,000 people based on 14-day average)
- Hospitalizations in MN-312 patients (up 14); 151 of the patients in intensive care (highest ICU number since June 27)
- Levels of hospitalization not seen since May, said Malcolm.
- 7-day testing positivity rate is 4.9%, this rate has picked up in recent weeks.
- Most cases in child care not related to in-center transmission, says Malcolm.
- Person who attended the North Star Stampede rodeo in Effie, Minn, in Itasca County had COVID-19. Encourages those patrons to limit your public interactions and activities for 14 days, practice social distancing and wear a mask during all interactions with others. If you do develop symptoms, seek health care and get tested, she said.
- Up to 50% of virus carriers can have no symptoms.
- There is a shortage of testing supplies nationwide, which can impact how quickly people get results.
- Passed one million testing milestone this week.
Dr. William Morice, chair of Mayo Clinic’s Dept. of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology and president of Mayo Clinic Laboratories:
- 424,000 COVID-19 diagnostic tests run by Mayo.
- “This fight is far from over,” said Dr. Morice. Working with state and federal government to get testing where it’s needed.
- People working at Mayo labs around clock to increase testing capacity.
- Mayo also working to get blood tests (serology tests) available at higher levels. These tests indicate exposure to the novel coronavirus.
- Health officials still do not know how well serology tests work. None of the tests on the market have been fully studied and approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
- Read more about testing: https://www.health.state.mn.us/diseases/coronavirus/symptoms.html
Tim Schacker, vice dean for research at the University of Minnesota Medical School:
- Running 6,000 diagnostic COVID-19 tests per day at U of M, turnaround time of 24-48 hours.
- U of M labs working in very close connection to Mayo Clinic labs to help with supply-chain issues.
- “We are far from out of the woods,” said Schacker, but significant progress in just six months.
- Says vaccines showing great promise, but “now is not the time let down our guard.”
Brendan Barrow, recently tested for COVID-19:
- College grad who recently was in Seattle, Wash. Decided to come home to care for his family.
- Was working in a warehouse in Seattle and started to show symptoms. He quarantined after showing symptoms.
- He says process to get tested was “incredibly easy.”
- Knew he wouldn’t be able to see his beloved grandmother if he tested positive.
- MDH urges people to take precautions, wear masks and social distance.
Q&A Session and Notes:
- 35% of transmissions is of unknown origin, this is increasing. Malcolm: Folks are just interacting more, especially after relaxing businesses restrictions in MN in June. “Current executive orders not being adhered to as well as we need them to be,” said Malcolm.
- How did rodeo that large happen? Large gatherings not allowed under current guidelines. Kris Ehresmann, infectious disease director: Individuals who organized rodeo did reach out to state officials, were frustrated by limit on capacity. Didn’t stop people from participating in ‘public assembly.’
- Were very aware there was no social distancing and people not wearing masks, said Ehresmann.
- Why wasn’t restraining order not done to stop rodeo? Malcolm: I can’t address the enforcement measures in full, defers to Attorney General.
- Malcolm: the executive orders are clear. “We continue to learn from all these experiences,” said Malcolm.
- On saliva test for teachers if they develop symptoms during school year. Malcolm: Current testing capacity not sufficient, especially with reopening of schools. The on-demand saliva testing developed by Rutgers University.
- Educators collect saliva samples at home and mail them in.
- Involves telehealth Zoom visit.
- The saliva test is FDA authorized.
- Viral load among children as high as adults, according new JAMA study. Ehresmann: we continue to monitor what we are seeing. So far, more cases with adults acquired outside the child-care center than inside that setting. Data so far show transmission is different with young kids vs. adults transmitting the virus.
- Dial back restrictions on bars? Minneapolis prevents customers from ‘bellying up’ to the bar, only served at tables. Malcolm: We’re watching these community transmission trends real closely, especially in the hospitality industry.
- “Most of the enforcement options have been pretty successful,” said Malcolm.
- Mortality data remains low. Why is that? Malcolm: Major improvements in the long-term-care facilities, as well as treatment improvements.
- Ehresmann: Mortality is a lagging indicator. Ultimately, mortality could go up as cases continue to grow.
- Dr. Schacker: At U of M hospital, multiple clinical trials open to treat COVID-19. Treatments changing so fast (i.e. remdesivir and dexamethasone, a steroid) We’re constantly amending protocols. “It’s remarkable,” he said.