8-19 COVID-19 Update from MN Department of Health
Minnesota Department of Health COVID-19 Update 8-19-2020
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, 22.1 million cases since start of pandemic; 780,000 deaths
- In U.S., 5.4 million cases since pandemic began; 171,000 deaths
- In Minnesota, 66,618 cumulative cases (up 567 over previous reporting day)
- Of the 66,618 cases, 60,242 patients (90%) have recovered and no longer need isolation
- In Minnesota, 1,738 cumulative deaths, (up 17 over prior reporting day)
- The 17 newly reported deaths is highest daily number since June 19
- 9 of 17 deaths are residents of long-term care facilities
- Hospitalized as of today in MN: 321 (+17 over prior day); Hospitalized in ICUs as of today: 152
- There’s a significant backlog of test results entered into MDH data system (25,000 tests), vast majority of them negative, some date back as far as April. MDH reports analytical data based on when people get tested, not when results come back.
MDH State Epidemiologist Dr. Ruth Lynfield:
- On encouraging college students to “lay low before you go,” also urges students to avoid crowded bars and house parties.
- The advice recommends students stay home for 14 days before returning to campus.
- Believes reopening campuses and schools will be determined by decisions from students
- Michigan State, University of North Carolina, and Notre Dame had to scale back in-person campus openings due positive tests of students. In the case of Notre Dame, positive tests traced to large off-campus parties with no mask wearing.
- Hearing “troubling reports” that some parents want in-person learning so badly, they’re not getting symptomatic children tested for belief it will affect the metrics that impact school decisions. “Please keep your children home when they have symptoms,” said Lynfield.
- Fatigue, achy joints, persistent loss of smell, damage to organs -including heart are some of the symptoms/outcomes from COVID-19 that can last “weeks to months,” said Lynfield.
- Please remember people can be infectious two days before symptoms develop.
Q&A Session and Notes:
- What kind of “troubling reports” are you hearing in regards to parents of students and schools? Lynfield: They are anecdotal. “Please, if you or your children have symptoms, get tested.” “If our levels of community transmission are high, we are going to have to shut down.”
- Changing recommendation to colleges given those situation at other colleges nationwide? Lynfield: “We are not.” MDH approach is to test symptomatic people (including students) or those with known exposure. “We don’t have an infinite supply of testing.”
- “Having a negative test doesn’t give a green light to go and socialize and not keep the distance,” said Lynfield.
- “We’re not going to be able to test our way out of this pandemic.” We need to take precautions, masks and social distancing.
- Do colleges have mechanism to track cases on campus? Kris Ehresmann: MDH will work in conjunction with local public health officials and the institution to do contact tracing. “It really would be a joint effort,” said Ehresmann, the state’s infectious expert.
- Is there threshold when school required to make number public? Ehresmann: “We have not indicated a point at which they need to make that information public.”
- MDH asking schools to make COVID-19 case information public to students and campus staff
- 3 weeks into Gov. Walz’s mask mandate. Any conclusions? Malcolm: Always difficult to determine causality, but we are seeing a stabilization of cases.
- Are increase in deaths reported today a blip? Malcolm: “We probably need a few more days to see.”
- “One day doesn’t make a trend,” said Ehresmann.
- Any strategy to fight mitigation fatigue? Lynfield: “One thing that would be useful is to remind people that some people do very poorly with this virus.” “We are learning more and more about long-term effects.” This includes people who were very healthy and have long battles of serious complications.
- Other effective strategies to get college students to comply? Ehresmann: Working with campuses on messaging. This messaging trickling down to teens as well, in regards to eventual high school in-person reopenings.
- Recommend asymptomatic students get tested before going to campus? Malcolm: recommendations continue to be symptomatic people and those with known exposure, due to limits of testing supplies at this point in time. If progress of new testing tools develop, MDH recommendations may change.