9-17 COVID-19 Update from MN Department of Health
Minnesota Department of Health COVID-19 Update 9-17-2020
The Minnesota Department of Health will hold a conference call today to brief members of the media on the latest public health information regarding COVID-19.
MDH Commissioner Jan Malcolm:
- Globally, 29.8 million cases since start of pandemic; 941,000 deaths
- In U.S, 6.65 million cases since pandemic began; 196,000 deaths
- In Minnesota, 86,722 cumulative cases (up 931 cases over prior reporting day)
- Only two days since start of pandemic with higher case totals in MN, but testing volume much higher now (more than 19,532 tests Wednesday)
- Of the 86,722 cases, 79,878 (92%) are no longer considered infectious of the novel coronavirus.
- 7-day positivity rate is 4.7% (an improvement over prior week)
- In Minnesota, 1,942 cumulative deaths (up 9 over previous day); 9 new deaths by age: 5 in 90s, 1 in 80s, 1 in 70s, 1 in 60s, 1 in 40s.
- Hospitalized in MN as of today: 242; Hospitalized in Minnesota ICUs today: 132.
- Hospitalizations near two-month low
- Announced no-barrier COVID-19 testing spread throughout state next week. Don’t need insurance, nor an ID. Just a name and way to contact you. First test sites in Pine City, Waseca, and Itasca County Fairgrounds in Grand Rapids.
- Will hold 3-6 testing events each week through mid-October
MDH Deputy Commissioner Dan Huff:
- No-barrier testing in response to increased levels of community spread across the state.
- Community spread defined as cases with no known origin.
- “We’re deeply concerned about the spikes in cases in communities all over Minnesota,” said Huff.
- “We’re nervously watching what is happening in our neighboring states,” said Huff.
- He notes Wisconsin, North Dakota, South Dakota and Iowa seeing exponential spike in cases. “We do not want that to happen here,” said Huff.
- “This effort will provide a bridge until mid-October, when Minnesotans will have additional access to testing through the opening of semi-permanent saliva testing locations,” he said.
- Some clinics not giving tests to people unless they have symptoms.
- Huff says state has reached Governor Tim Walz’s “moon shot” goal of 20,000 tests per day. Says capacity is there now and growing, but not enough people getting tested.
- Minnesota has capacity to process 22,000 tests per day.
- Helping find out that someone is positive helps protects others, but also helps keep schools and businesses open, by quarantining those with COVID-19.
- Minnesota National Guard will help with staffing and logistical support for no-barrier testing.
MDH Medical Director Dr. Ruth Lynfield:
- Highlighted CDC report that serial testing at long-term care facilities with outbreaks are extremely helpful. Can catch staff and patients who are asymptomatic.
- Two Minnesota skilled nursing facilities identified COVID-19 cases among 64% of residents and 33% of health care personnel.
- “We have seen great results from these added safety precautions and the hard work that our skilled nursing facililties have done.”
Q&A Session and Notes:
- Hennepin County’s 14-day case rate per 10,000 people declined to 16.88. This rate is used to guide school districts in learning model decisions.
- Before businesses are fined for violating COVID-19 restrictions (such as openly violating mask mandate), there are several warnings.
- “We continue to work with our bars and restaurants,” said Huff, “but it’s important that every owner and every customer take it upon themselves to be out safely.”
- All staff must be masked and customers must be masked when not eating and drinking, especially when moving about in an establishment, said Huff. Customers must be seated in small groups and socially distant from other tables. All establishments must have reservations or sign-up list that allows for contact tracing.
- Value of Mayo Clinic modeling? Malcolm: “Yes, we’re certainly grateful for the data that Mayo has been sharing with us.” This is real-time data, uses artificial intelligence to help project out into the future. Mayo found it extremely useful for hospital care and capacity, said Malcolm.
- NOTE: This model will be available and updated this fall with county-level modeling forecasts for pandemic activity.
- Mayo Clinic shows stable, but relatively high case levels, however not extreme growth. MDH doesn’t want state “to fall off the cliff.”
- No data yet regarding transmissions from Labor Day holiday weekend. (14-day incubation period for virus, plus at least a week for test results) Won’t see precise data for another couple weeks to reveal full impact.
- Some people aren’t eligible for testing even though may have had possible exposure. How to improve access? Malcolm: We are working with health systems to build up their testing capacity. Community testing sites are a great source, but not a sufficient strategy. Need regular sources of testing, said Malcolm.