8-17 COVID-19 Update from MN Department of Health
Minnesota Department of Health COVID-19 Update 8-17-2020
The Minnesota Department of Health will hold a 2 p.m. conference call Monday to brief members of the media on the latest public health information regarding COVID-19.
MDH Commissioner Jan Malcolm:
- Globally, 21.7 million cases since start of pandemic; 775,000 total deaths attributed to COVID-19
- In U.S., 5.41 million cumulative cases; 170,000 total deaths
- In Minnesota, 65,716 confirmed cases since start of pandemic (Up 567 cases reported Monday). Added 681 cases on Saturday, 751 cases on Sunday.
- About 90% of patients (58,859) have recovered and no longer need isolation
- NOTE: Numbers reported on Monday have been lower throughout the pandemic. This reflects reduced diagnostic testing on weekends.
- In Minnesota, 1,712 deaths (6 new deaths since prior reporting day)
- Total cases hospitalized in MN: 5,886; Hospitalized as of today: 286, hospitalized in ICUs as of today: 155
- Hospitalizations are trending in right direction. Hospitalizations are at lowest number since July 26
- 7-day testing positivity rate is 4.9%, down from 5.2% last week. First time below 5% since July 23
MDH Director of Infectious Disease and Epidemiology Kris Ehresmann:
- Focused on diet and exercise to help ward off COVID-19.
- Serious complications liked to underlying health conditions, including obesity, high-blood pressure and Type 2 diabetes.
- Reminds residents to be respectful to others in tourism areas, wear masks and social distance.
Q&A Session and Notes:
- Have we reached peak? Or is that premature? Malcolm: “It’s a familiar looking pattern.” We have seen waves in recent weeks. “We may have reached the crest of the latest wave,” said Malcolm. “It’s a fairly stable situation albeit at a higher level of cases than we saw in late spring because of much increased testing we’re doing now compared to then.”
- The spread is much more predominant community spread, said Malcolm.
- Why all the racial disparities in hospitalizations? Malcolm: “We think the reasons for it are multiple.” People in some racial ethnic groups are employed in certain settings that are higher risk, e.g. long-term care facilities and meat processing plants.
- What about Labor Day weekend travel recommendations? Don’t go to vacation spots? Malcolm: Early on we were more restrictive. “We totally understand how important is for people to enjoy the summer.” Not discouraging people to avoid travel, but to be mindful where you are going, especially out of state. Consider self-quarantine if you visited high-risk areas.
- Update on PPE situation? Malcolm: “We have generally seen procurement improving” for health care systems, long-term care settings.
- Approach large events differently after rodeo in Effie, MN? Malcolm: message will stay the same, caution with large gatherings. Ehresmann: “It’s hard to take action in advance.” Rodeo had two cases. Ehresmann says people may not have self-reported their exposure. “We can only report what people shared with us.”
- 3 weeks since mask mandate. Positive impact? Malcolm: It’s often really hard, if not impossible to pin down what mitigations have the most effect. “We’re delighted to see things stabilize,” said Ehresmann. Mask mandate may have helped. No precise way to determine how much it has helped.
- Hospitalizations are lower as total cases rise. What conclusions can we draw? Malcolm: Improvements really made since pandemic, notes drugs like remdesivir and dexamethasone that have shown to reduce effects of COVID-19. “We don’t want to take eye off of case growth and test positivity.”
- Ehresmann: Individuals are having longer-term consequences. It’s not just hospitalizations to determine impact. “Don’t want to interpret any of our metrics too strongly.”
- School planning and infection rate with teens? Right plan in place? Malcolm: It’s important to stay flexible. “We’re engaged with individual school districts,” rather than wide-scale recommendations.