Update: Governor Expects to Extend Closure of Restaurants, Bars
Governor Tim Walz joined officials from the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and other state agencies Tuesday afternoon to provide an update on Minnesota’s response to COVID-19.
UPDATE FROM GOV. WALZ:
- We have 262 cases in Minnesota. We’re still trying to ramp up the testing. The numbers of confirmed cases aren’t indicative of the total number of cases out there.
- Seven of those 262 cases are ICU cases. We have 243 adult ICU beds available.
- MNSURE open enrollment, if you don’t have health insurance coverage, you can sign up now through April 21.
- Minnesotans seem to be doing a good job of social distancing. There seems to be some cell phone data and other quantifiable data that shows that that is happening, that Minnesotans are taking this seriously.
- We’ve been coordinating with folks from Medical Alley over the last 24 hours, which is a trade group of folks across large and small medical technology and health care companies. We’re bringing in some of their supply chain experts to help us to be able to get the things that we need, and also to think about, how does Minnesota ramp up our manufacturing capacity right here in a short amount of time to fill the needs that are certainly not going to be filled out of the strategic national stockpile. As states are competing against one another, we’re trying to figure out ways to use our capacity here to push that out.
- Minnesota’s major food producers (General Mills, Cargill, Hormel, Land O’Lakes, CHS) are doing what they can to keep the food pipeline going. They feel confident about it. They’re thinking about spring planting now and what the impact is going to be on corn prices.
- Spoke with leaders of MN’s major labor unions. They’re showing up to work, taking care of our children and keeping the lights on and the power going. They assured us they’re ready to do the job.
- Spoke with the division commander of the Mississippi area corps of engineers. We’re doing our scoping as we increase capacity in alternative sites to provide health care as we ramp up those ICU beds.
UPDATE FROM MN DEPT. OF HEALTH COMMISSIONER JAN MALCOLM:
- Globally, 393,000 cases of COVID-19 and 17,200 deaths
- 46,481 cases in the U.S.
- The U.S. in total is reporting 593 deaths.
- We are at 262 laboratory confirmed cases in Minnesota, that’s an increase by 27 from yesterday. It is an undercount because not all cases are being tested.
- We are looking at other data sources to inform our picture of what may be happening
- The number of hospitalizations — we’ve had 25 patients hospitalized since the start of the outbreak, 15 currently in the hospital, seven of which are in intensive care. The rest of the patients have recovered or are recovering at home.
- We know there are more cases and we should all be acting with the assumption that the virus is circulating in our communities and taking every precaution to follow health guidelines.
- Almost 1,900 calls to our public hotline yesterday, and almost 800,000 visits to our COVID-19 website.
UPDATE FROM DIRECTOR OF HOMELAND SECURITY & EMERGENCY MGMT. JOE KELLY:
- The state has several hotlines where people can learn what to do and how to keep their loved-ones safe. Most prominent is the line to the MN Dept. of Health. That number is (651) 201-3920 or 1-800-657-3903
- We just completed an expansion for the state hotline, adding 20 more telephone lines.
- The number for calls about education, childcare and other general topics (651) 297-1304 or 1-800-657-3504.
- We are working to expand the capacity of our healthcare system, especially our intensive care unit beds.
- We’ve established a planning team that’s working on creating alternative health care facilities, such as a motel or a basketball court being turned into hospital rooms or care units.
- We hope the demand doesn’t increase our health care capacity. We’re in good shape now. But we need to be prepared to expand that system very quickly.
- Minnesota businesses have been generous in offering goods and services in their production capacity. We’ve received 200 offers for help.
- If a business wants to offer help, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
- If we work together to take care of each other, we’ll get through this.
UPDATE FROM DEED COMMISSIONER STEVE GROVE:
- Building off of the governor’s executive order yesterday that helps small businesses with an emergency loan program who were affected by the executive orders on temporary closure, our department has been hard at work at setting up that loan program with 23 lenders across the state to ensure that we can accept applications by the end of this week.
- We’ve seen more than 1,000 emails come across so far with questions about the loan program.
- Half of all Minnesotans work for a small business, so this is a critical support line that we’re eager to moving to bridge the gap that so many businesses will face in the coming weeks with some of these closures.
- Unemployment insurance — In the last week, between March 16-23, we’ve seen a total of 149, 443 new applications for unemployment insurance.
- 48,540 applications from the food preparation services industry.
- In the personal care and service industry (salons, spas, tattoo parlors, etc.) we’ve seen 10,844 applications.
- In the Sales and service, 10,567 applications
- Office and administrative support, 9,271 applications
- The closures have affected women more than men. 63% of the applicants are women. We think that’s due to the large number of women in the leisure and hospitality and personal service industries.
- From an age perspective, we’ve seen the claims shift downward demographically. The largest age window for applicants of unemployment insurance is those aged between 22-29. We’ve had 32,000 applicants come from that window.
- Go to UIMN.org for help on how unemployment insurance can help, don’t call in for general information.
- We’re encouraging people to get help from friends and family versus having to call in for help with unemployment insurance.
UPDATE FROM DEPT. OF EDUCATION DEPUTY COMMISSIONER HEATHER MUELLER:
- We’re focused on the academic needs and the mental health and well-being of our students.
- All of this work is to ensure that students are still making connections with their school staff who believe in them and want the best for them.
- Numbers we’d like to share with regards to nutrition and child care — Yesterday, with 205 of 533 school districts reporting, 115,308 meals were served just yesterday. With 3,726 students in school-age care.
- Four day total of 300 schools reporting, 469,573 meals served in a four-day period.
Meanwhile, Kris Ehresmann from the MDH says the only clustering they’ve see in COVID-19 tests have only been in households. “So we’re not seeing clustering within a community, but rather just in a household setting,” she said. “We do have several congregate living situations that we are investigating, including long term care. And, we are working with the leadership in those facilities to test additional patients. And I believe we have had one or two additional positives that will be reported tomorrow. But we are continuing to work with those facilities to make sure that they have the resources they need to do the necessary infection control activities that accompany having cases in their facility.”
Also, Gov. Walz elaborated on what he said Monday when he predicted that 40 to 80 percent of Minnesotans would become infected with COVID-19. Governor Walz said, “At some point in time those numbers will come true. The only question is, how long it takes us and how soon some of the therapeutics, and of course the vaccine in the long run would change that number. But in the absence of a vaccine, this will be the number that goes.”
Gov. Walz also said he expects to extend the closure of schools, bars, restaurants and other related businesses. The governor’s original executive orders were supposed to expire on Friday, March 27. “I think people can forecast there is going to be an extension around that,” he said.
Meanwhile, the MN Department of Public Safety reports that traffic volumes have dropped 40% in Twin Cities metro, and 26% in Greater Minnesota. The data is an indicator that people are not moving to the same degree that they had been prior to the novel coronavirus outbreak.