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Now live tweeting the daily Minnesota COVID19 briefing. For full coverage, go to
On the call MDH's Jan Malcolm and Kris Ehresmann.
Globally: 5.5 mil cases, 346K deaths. US: 1.6 mil cases and more than 98K deaths. MN: 21,960 confirmed cases. Additional 2K+ over the long weekend. Case doubling (impt metric). Aiming for 7 or shorter, now at 16 days for doubling.
Median age of cases is 42 years of age. Malcolm says this due to perception that this is only elderly.
899 total confirmed deaths in MN.
Deaths include one person in 40s. Others are elderly.
15 of 18 new deaths reported were in congregate care. 258 ICU patients now in MN. Hospitalization in ICU unit has increased by a "pretty significant degree."
Testing volume: 5800 tests done yesterday. Large number for holiday, Malcolm says over 8500 tests on Friday, 8400 on Saturday, almost 6100 on Sunday. The Natl Guard testing sites helped drive this. Malcolm thanks them for help with this. Guard did close to 10K tests at 6 sites.
Malcolm says still waiting for results from this test drive.
Malcolm says more info coming on how state will do more mobile testing around the state.
Nearly MN health plans will continue to waive copays for COVID hospitalizations thru Sept 30.
MDH also announcing significant grants for providers, LTC providers, first responders for COVID response. Staffing, PPE is how these funds will be used.
Money can also be used to expand testing access and expand care for COVID, plus IT for telemedicine, triage.
Assisted living, hospitals, primary care providers were prioritized in grant selection. Small providers also prioritized because large providers benefited from federal grants.
There is some money left in the money appropriated by #mnleg. Malcolm says set it up to have $$ granted in waves to deal with needs that emerge later. Application process is ongoing.
Malcolm thanks #mnleg for "proactive action" in making these dollars available. #mnleg also authorized $50 million for short-term response back in March.
Ehresmann on jump in ICU bed use. Largest single day jump from Sunday to Monday (over 40). Also hearing hospitals at or near ICU capacity at the end of last week. Have heard isolated staffing concerns. She says this increase not unexpected.
Ehresmann says not unusual for ICU beds to be 95% full during flu season. I think she said metro hospitals were around 80% capacity. More capacity outside of metro.
Now onto questions. Is about #UMN model, which suggested deaths could double by Memorial Day 1400-2000 deaths). Can you explain gap btwn reality and prediction? A. Malcolm says model is one input the state is looking at, not only one.
Malcolm says "certainly the case" that reality is more favorable than projections/scenarios than UMN model. She says most models have seen fairly corrections one way or another. Notes IHME model less optimistic as time gone on.
Q. MN's doubling rate keeps slowing. Do you worry that coronavirus stuff is overblown? A. Malcolm says among those who don't know anyone - yet- who has had it, folks might think only a problem for certain populations but "not for me." She says not the case, notes community spread
"All of these things that we think are isolated cases (like food plant outbreaks) actually are driving community spread as well."
Q. How long will restrictions on inside dining last? A. Malcolm says Gov. didn't set dates for next (re-opening) stages for a reason. Also says it takes 14-21 days to see if re-opening policy change affected COVID spread.
Don't want to set a date so locked in on re-opening if even the data doesn't support it. (Data = case numbers, ICU use, test positive rates)
Malcolm is asked if she would feel comfortable eating outside at a restaurant after June 1. A. Yes, if she can see that restaurant/patrons are taking precautions.
Q. Mpls ranked 4th in positivity among metro areas. Can you explain this further? Is it Cedar-Riverside cluster? A. Malcolm says notes testing has dramatically increased and targeting testing of LTC and food plants. May be driving this.
Ehresmann: Up until this weekend, testing has been focused on settings where expected to see high positivity rate. Many of these settings have been in Mpls, Hennepin County. For meat plants, many workers go home on weekends and home is Twin Cities.
More: Ehresmann says sampling in places where they know there will be high positives.
Q. Do numbers tell us anything about disease's course here? A. Ehresmann says it tells us about connections between various places, such as workplaces and communities where workers live. Says it is not a shock to see this.
Q. How confident are you that nurses are available to staff surge ICU beds? A. Confident but if many staff are ill, then that affects capacity. Talks about need to ensure medical grade PPE available in acute care staff.
Malcolm says long-term care staffing "remains a conundrum." Was a concern before pandemic and now even more so. Working with hospitals to see if they could provide staff to assist with this but may not be available now as hospital capacity increases.
Q about 10K tests at Guard site. Didn't require people to have symptoms. How will data be used? A. Will play a role in surveillance (me interpreting this). It's not rigorously-designed strategy but has value, indicates demand for tests in those not accessing it thru clinic, etc.
Q. about testing at long-term care facilities. A. Seven sites where testing happening today. Many facilities have signed up to have testing done but many deferred this as long holiday approach and need to plan for how this will be done.
Q. What % of LTC facilities still waiting for tests? A. State is building a dashboard on this and other aims laid out in the long-term care battle plan.
Ehresmann also notes that switch to Guard sites for general population testing was taken where there were deferrals from nursing homes about doing testing on site. It wasn't that testing was taken away from nursing homes to do it for general population over the weekend.
Last Q. is about ICU capacity increase. Is that concerning as state eases restrictions? A. Not unusual for systems to run close to capacity during flu season. Coordination, precision now exists to help place patients who need this level of care as demand ramps up.
More: Malcolm says that we do know as elective care resumes, which can include complex surgeries, this is driving some of the ICU usage. Leadership expects to see pattern of ICU usage coming up as care backlog is addressed.
One more follow-up question. Are stadiums still being considered as alternative care sites? A. State has taken approach of hewing to settings as close to hospital as possible vs. large open spaces. Not impossible could rely on stadiums, but this would be last resort.
That's a wrap for the daily MN COVID19 briefing. For full coverage, go to
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