9-8 MN COVID-19 Briefing and Updates on K-12 Education
Minnesota Department of Health Gives Update on COVID-19 & K-12 Education
The Minnesota Department of Health held a 2 p.m. conference call Tuesday to brief members of the media on the latest public health information regarding COVID-19, with a focus on K-12 education.
MDH Director of Infectious Disease and Epidemiology Kris Ehresmann:
- Globally, 27.3 million cases since pandemic began; 893,000 deaths
- In U.S., 6.3 million cases since start of pandemic; 189,000 deaths
- In Minnesota, 81,608 confirmed cases (up 387 over previous day);
- Median age of cases is 35 years old
- Of the 81,608 cases, 74,235 (91%) have recovered and no longer need isolation
- In Minnesota, 1,862 cumulative deaths, (up 2 over previous reporting day). One of the persons who died in 40s.
- Hospitalized in MN as of today: 257; Hospitalized in MN ICUs as of today: 135
- 51 Minnesotans with COVID-19 who attended Sturgis, S.D, motorcycle rally; 3 hospitalized and 1 death
- If student or staff member is sick with COVID-19 symptoms, get tested, may need to stay home for 14 days (incubation period of novel coronavirus), especially if you’ve had contact with someone who tested positive for the virus.
MDE Commissioner Mary Cathryn Ricker:
- “I believe they are all ready,” referring to districts launching school today, but said it will take an “all hands-on deck approach.”
- When not at school, Ricker urges students and staff members to social distance.
- “Families, I know this pandemic has been hard on you,” said Ricker. “We do not expect you to be teachers or feel like you’re solely in charge of your students’ learning.”
- Urges businesses to be flexible when dealing with parents who have children doing distance and hybrid learning. “You will be a key contribution to this school year,” says Ricker, referring to businesses.
- “This is going to be an unpredictable school year,” she said, but “am confident we’ll have a safe and successful school year.”
MDE Deputy Commissioner Heather Mueller also on briefing call
Q&A Session and Notes:
- On school outbreaks and a portal to help families keep track: “We’re working on finalizing the details,” said Ehresmann. “The plan is that we will have data by school available to you.”
- Perspective on learning models:
- 576 school districts and charter schools in the state, MDE has data for 426 of them.
- 267 (63%) – hybrid learning
- 53 (12%) – only distance learning
- 106 (25%) – only in-person learning
- Comment on testing rates going down, but case rates going up. What to make of it? “We’re seeing more and more community transmission,” said Ehresmann.
- Concerned about students and staff who are showing up and may be asymptomatic? Ehresmann: “It’s definitely a concern.” If you have any symptoms, you need to stay home and get tested. Can’t identify asymptomatic transmission, unless everyone gets tested every single day.
- Ricker: It’s why we’re taking mitigation measures so seriously. “We’ve had school staff working all summer to prepare buildings for the physical distancing, for hygiene and hand washing stations. We’ve had principals in their buildings with tape measures, we’ve had custodians moving furniture, pulling it out. We’ve had school clerks setting up their offices to provide for safe and healthy interaction with school families.”
- Also prioritized purchased masks and shields for staff, said Ricker.
- Free saliva tests being provided to school staff.
- On free community testing in Mankato, Ehresmann: 1,863 got tested. 46 tested positive (about 2.5% positivity rate). High percentage of college-age people getting tested.
- On districts that went back to school earlier than today – Ehresmann: 236 cases of COVID-19 associated with school districts since Aug. 1. 81% involved staff. Most single individual cases.
- How many districts were advised to start in a more restrictive learning model because of county case data: Don’t have a number.
- Winona State had to put in place a quarantine. Is this tip of iceberg? Ehresmann: Winona had cases pushing more than 200. Concordia College-Moorhead and Minnesota State University-Moorhead also had large number of cases. Mankato stabilized, but we’ll see when new data comes out.
- HealthPartners participating in vaccine trials, so much interest website crashed. MDH working with health systems on vaccine distribution plan.
- Perspective on districts shutting down, even if it’s just a few cases. Ehresmann: “Our guidance looks at the broader perspective.” MDE says it would not be its recommendation for districts to shut down if it’s only a couple cases. But there’s a breadth of considerations taking into account.