7-8-2020 COVID-19 Update from the MN Department of Health
Minnesota Department of Health COVID-19 Update 7-8-2020
On Wednesday, July 8, the Minnesota Department of Health held a conference call to brief members of the media on the latest public health information regarding COVID-19.
MDH Commissioner Jan Malcolm:
- Globally, 11.8 million cases; 544,000 deaths
- In U.S., 3.05 million cases; 133,000 deaths
- In MN, 39,589 confirmed cases (up 463); 1,485 deaths (up 8)
- Of the 8 new deaths, one person in 40s (had at least 1 underlying health condition) and one person in 30s (no known underlying condition as of this time)
- Case numbers in MN have increased slightly over past two weeks.
- 265 patients hospitalized for COVID-19 (122 in ICU). “The hospitalization situation remains fairly stable,” said Malcolm.
- 7,651 tests completed yesterday. Malcolm expects testing to pick up after Fourth of July weekend. (for perspective, testing was in 13,000 to 14,000 per day prior to July 4)
- 7-day positivity rate is 4.4%, which is an increase over prior week of 3.6% positivity rate. (Positivity rate is those who tested positive for COVID-19 out of all the people who got tested).
- MDH monitoring virus transmission during holiday weekend celebrations, which could result in increased confirmed cases in mid-July.
- Noticing re-emerging supply chain challenges, that’s due to explosion of cases nationwide.
MDH Infectious Diseases Director Kris Ehresmann:
- The number of cases nationwide could also mean increase in time it takes to get lab results processed (most of the completed tests reported come from non-MDH laboratories)
- It may take up to eight days from time someone gets tested to the time a provider contacts someone with a positive result, said Ehresmann.
- City of St. James receiving community-wide testing Wednesday due to outbreak there.
- Guidance for window and outdoor visits remains in place at long-term care facilities.
- Acknowleged so-called “COVID parties” are occurring where younger people hold parties to see who gets COVID first
- There is no evidence of this occurring in Minnesota, Ehresmann said during briefing, but this has happened in other parts of the country.
- “This is a really, really bad idea,” said Ehresmann.
- “Not only is there a significant risk of complications in young people or anyone who develops COVID, but there’s also a real risk the virus would be passed along to other family members and even people in the community who would be at much higher risk,” she said.
- “If you’re thinking of ‘oh, let’s just do this and get it over with, it’s really playing Russian roulette,” said Ehresmann.
- “We’ve had at least 3 deaths in healthy 20-year-olds,” she said.
Q&A Session and Notes:
- Edina experienced spike in cases among young adults. What’s behind it? Ehresmann: Many of them reported attending house parties, bonfires, cabin weekends, as well as sports teams reporting exposures.
- “Some of the sports teams were not only together for their athletic activities, but also attended some house parties and cabin weekends,” said Ehresmann.
- A large party held in late June in Edina, significant number of cases associated with that.
- Surge in young adult cases not just restricted to Edina, but across the state.
- The 20-29 age group has experienced a spike. Is it largely because of parties? Ehresmann: “We are continuing to see bars and restaurants as a significant source of exposure.” Several hundreds of cases linked to these settings in last week.
- Malcolm said she’s appreciative of members of the hospitality industry sharing concerns that if venues are to stay open at least at reduced capacity, people need to follow social distancing guidelines. Eating and drinking outdoors is better option than indoors (Outdoors shown to mitigate spread of transmission, said Malcolm.
- Ehresmann also noted that while increase in positivity rate (from 3.6% to 4.4% isn’t a good thing), it could also mean state is doing a better job of targeting hot spots, such as testing done in St. James this week and Madelia last week. Expect to see higher positivity rate in those places.
- Any evidence supply shortage resulting in lower testing numbers. Malcolm: It’s a not unexpected reflection of a holiday weekend, though there are some supply-chain issues cropping up over last couple of weeks.
- MDH says it does have MDH staff who are out observing what’s going on at bars and restaurants to get a sense of what’s happening to stress guidance about the disease. (The obeservance also comes from local law enforcement and local public health officials)
- These officials, says Ehresmann, don’t just observe, but will communicate with establishment to try to address problem.
- “Our goal is to help them be successful,” referring to bars and restaurants allowed to reopen at 50% capacity with maximum of 250 people indoors or outdoors.
- Question about President suggesting he would pull federal funding from schools if they don’t reopen in the fall. CDC chief also came out in favor of reopening schools. Malcolm: Working on latest evidence with safety in schools, noting it continues to evolve. It is important to get kids in the school environment, she said. Distance learning is not a uniformly successful experience.
- “It’s a shared goal to get kids back in the classroom, but to do so in a safe manner that protects certainly the students, but also the teachers and the staff in those facilities,” said Malcolm.
- “We are also looking how to best monitor activity in schools,” said Ehresmann.
- Working on this with Minn. Dept. of Education, no new timeline yet.
- Any update on new Minnesota modeling? Malcolm: expect to rerun it in next several weeks.
- Why is Minnesota getting so much better than other states it seems right now? Malcolm. “It’s a great question and one we need to keep digging into.”
- “I think a sobering thing was realizing the importance of giving it an appropriate amount of time before you can really judge the impact of policy decisions or environmental kind of impacts,” said Malcolm.
- “I think that our thoughtful approach is a positive one,” said Ehresmann, but also mentioned, “We don’t want to be locked down any longer than we need to, but we also want to be thoughtful.”
- Any outbreaks in MN daycares? Ehresmann: Definition for an outbreak in child care is two or more cases, so low threshold.
- 125 programs that have had at least one case.
- 38 programs have had 2 or more cases
- 8 of those programs have had 5 or more cases
- Majority of cases among staff: 66% (Most evidence in staff cases shows transmission not from kids or people from a center, but rather contraction is occurring out in the community)