9-25 COVID-19 Update from MN Department of Health
Minnesota Department of Health COVID-19 Update 9-25-2020
The Minnesota Department of Health held a conference call Friday briefing members of the media on the latest public health information regarding COVID-19.
MDH Director of Infectious Disease and Epidemiology Kris Ehresmann:
- Globally, 32.2 million cases since onset of pandemic; 983,000 deaths
- In U.S., 6.9 million cases since pandemic began; 202,000 deaths
- In Minnesota, 94,189 cumulative cases (up 1,191 cases over previous reporting day)
- Median age of cases: 35 years old
- 1,191 cases second highest total to date in Minnesota out of more than 28,000 tests conducted Thursday.
- Of the 94,189 cases, 84,256 (89%) are no longer considered infectious
- In Minnesota, 1,994 deaths (up 6 deaths)
- Of the 6 newly reported deaths, 3 lived at a long-term care or assisted living facility; 4 in 80s age group, 2 in 70s
- Total cases in MN hospitalized: 340; Total cases hospitalized in MN ICUs: 120
- Average 7-day positivity rate: 4.8% (higher than prior week: 4.6%)
MDH Assistant Commissioner Dan Huff:
- Randomly selected door-to-door COVID-19 testing survey halted; MDH officials cite multiple incidents in greater Minnesota of residents intimidating and shouting racial and ethnic slurs at state and federal public health survey teams.
- Goal of survey was to help MDH better understand spread of COVID-19 throughout state and better identify infection rates in various regions of state.
- Federal CDC decided to withdraw field staff earlier this week. (Surveys were to take place between Sept. 14 to Sept. 30)
- Reception to survey teams was “too often hostile,” said Huff.
- Cited Sept. 15 incident in Iowa border town of Eitzen, Minn. Huff said 3-member survey team (2 CDC employees and contract nurse) walked to house when blocked by two cars, threatened by three men, including one who had a gun. Racial epithets used, said Huff.
- “The enemy is the virus, not each other,” said Huff.
Q&A Session and Notes:
- Likely to reach 2,000 death milestone this weekend — Ehresmann: “That is sobering.” A moment of silence held by MDH staffers knowing the likelihood of this. Many more cases now by younger age groups. “We have improved our ability to care for patients successfully, has improved as the pandemic has gone on,” said Ehresmann. “That is definitely something to celebrate.”
- Ehresmann: “I do receive threatening and hostile emails,” she said when asked about her job role.
- Level of anger toward public health officials “has increased to a level that at least for us is unprecedented,” said Huff.
- Huff: Says MDH has to cycle staff out due to emotional toll. “From my perspective, it’s unfortunate,” said Huff about the incidents MDH workers have dealt with. “We are not at our best right now. And that is disappointing.”
- MDH currently does not have a formal support group, but there is concern about burnout, said Ehresmann.
- More on CASPER project worker threats in Minnesota compared to rest of country – Ehresmann: “We certainly hear from colleagues in other states.” Similar issues, she said. “Somehow you always think you’re home state is the best,” said Ehresmann. “We expected our fellow citizens would behave differently. That is particularly devastating to staff.”
- “These incidents are disturbing,” said Huff.
- On political events, Huff says both campaigns asked to abide by COVID-19 social distancing and masks. Not being followed with some campaign visits. “In a civilized society, we operate on a social contract with each other,” said Huff. “Everything cannot be policed.” Wouldn’t comment further on possible penalties against campaigns.
- Minnesota downgraded to “uncontrolled” COVID-19 spread, according to COVID-19 Exit Strategy website. “Not a title we’re excited about,” said Ehresmann. Downgrade due to unknown community transmission of 36%, which is over 30% state threshold.