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Live updates: Nearly 20K COVID-19 testing milestone was result of 'reporting error'

The latest developments in the COVID-19 pandemic in Minnesota and Wisconsin.
Credit: KARE
COVID-19 testing numbers for Minnesota as of June 17, 2020.

LISTEN: MN Dept. of Health Briefing - June 17, 2020

Wednesday, June 17

  • MDH: Apparent single-day high of nearly 20,000 COVID-19 tests was actually spread out over two days
  • Mayo Clinic reporting error may have impacted testing numbers in multiple states
  • MDH to deploy community testing in Mower County after spike in cases
  • Hospitalizations and ICU cases of COVID-19 continue trend of decline
  • Gov. Walz signs bill providing $62.5 million to small business

2 p.m.

Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) Commissioner Jan Malcolm said Wednesday that the large number of COVID-19 tests reported for the previous 24-hour period were actually spread out over a couple of days.

MDH had told KARE 11 that a test reporting issue at the Mayo Clinic was identified on Sunday and resolved on Monday, but may still be affecting numbers. That issue affected multiple states.

Malcolm confirmed Wednesday that the nearly 20,000 tests reported Wednesday were not all performed in one day.

MDH spokesperson Doug Schultz said in an email that a little over 11,000 of the 19,573 tests reported Wednesday would likely have been reported over the last two days had the issue not occurred.

Malcolm also said on Wednesday's daily briefing call with reporters that they are seeing approximately 1% positivity in community test sites focused on people who attended recent gatherings and protests over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody.

"We are not seeing a huge increase in cases," MDH Infectious Disease Director Kris Ehresmann said, but she said they will continue to monitor for the next couple of weeks and look at national data as well. 

Ehresmann said they are "very pleased and grateful" both for that low positivity rate and for the apparent plateau of coronavirus cases in the state.

"We just want to have a little more positive data before we do the happy dance completely," Ehresmann said.

A surge of cases in Mower County now puts it at the second-highest incidence of cases in the state, according to Ehresmann.

"Obviously when we see increases in cases in any area we pay attention to that," Ehresmann said. "In this case we are seeing that there's been activity both in the community as well as related to a couple of large employers in the area."

Ehresmann said there has already been testing in collaboration with local public health and Mayo Clinic, which has helped to identify the situation. MDH is getting ready to provide additional community testing over the weekend.

Ehresmann also said MDH has received a shipment of remdesivir to be distributed to patients across the state. That drug is used with critical COVID-19 cases and has been shown to reduce the amount of time a person is hospitalized.

11 a.m.

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) reported 419 newly identified COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, out of a volume of 19,573 tests completed statewide on Tuesday.

That testing volume for the previous 24-hour period would be by far the biggest day yet since the pandemic began. The 20,000-test-per-day milestone is one that MDH and Gov. Tim Walz have aspired to, as they work to increase testing volume in Minnesota.

MDH spokesperson Doug Schultz told KARE 11 that Monday's testing numbers may have been impacted by a reporting issue with tests done by the Mayo Clinic. The issue has been resolved, but it's unclear whether it affected the numbers reported for Tuesday.

The newly reported numbers out Wednesday put Minnesota at 31,296 cases total. An additional 12 deaths were reported Wednesday, bringing the COVID-19 death toll in the state so far to 1,325. Seventy-nine percent of those, or 1,051 deaths, occurred in long-term care or assisted living.

Hospitalizations dropped again on Wednesday, following a trend of steady or declining numbers on that front. According to MDH, 351 people are hospitalized as of Wednesday, with 181 of those in the ICU.

RELATED: Experts warn about 'quarantine fatigue'

RELATED: Live updates: New COVID-19 cases decline for 4th day in Minnesota

Tuesday, June 16

7:30 p.m.

Governor Tim Walz announced the signing of an economic stimulus bill (H.F. 5) into law that will provide nearly $62.5 million in grant money for small businesses struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Around $60 million of the funds allocated will be drawn up from the federal CARES Act, with the remaining $2.5 million coming from Minnesota's Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED). 

In a press release put out Tuesday night, Walz said, “One of our top priorities during this special legislative session is to build a stronger and more equitable economy, and this direct assistance is an important piece of that plan. We will continue working with the legislature to ensure Minnesota’s economic recovery lifts up our Black, Brown, Indigenous, veteran, female, and Greater Minnesota business owners, who have been hit hard by this pandemic.” 

According to the release, the bill makes small businesses with 50 or less employees eligible for up to $10,000 in grant money. 

Nearly half of the funding will go toward Greater Minnesota businesses, at least $10 million will go toward minority-owned businesses, $2.5 million toward veteran-owned businesses, $2.5 million toward women-owned businesses and $2.5 million toward the support of cultural malls.

The Lt. Gov. weighed in saying, “This funding will support businesses across Minnesota and will be a critical lifeline for underrepresented entrepreneurs, including women, veterans, people of color, and Indigenous folks, to help communities rebuild. I’m grateful to the Legislature for listening to the needs of communities that are historically under-supported. Minnesotans value our small businesses and our main streets, especially during this difficult time. Our Administration stands with them as they weather this pandemic.”

The press release states more information will be made available to the public in the coming weeks on DEED's website.

2 p.m.

"There’s reasons to be optimistic," Gov. Tim Walz said Tuesday, after the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) reported that new COVID-19 cases fell below 200 on Monday.

However, Walz was careful to note the pandemic is ongoing in Minnesota.

"I don’t act like this thing is over. … We might be in the early innings," he said. "We have a pretty good trend line that we were hoping to that’s relatively flat."

Walz said he and state health officials continue to be concerned about potential community spread, adding that it is always best to know how a person got sick and where they got sick.

11 a.m.

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) is reporting low numbers of COVID-19 tests and positive new cases Tuesday.

MDH identified an additional 197 positive coronavirus cases in the state based on the 6,294 tests completed on Monday. Case numbers are generally lower on Mondays and Tuesdays, because they are often based on smaller numbers of samples collected over the weekend.

Tuesday's numbers bring Minnesota to 30,882 COVID-19 cases in total. Nine additional deaths were reported as well, bringing the death total statewide to 1,313. Seventy-nine percent of those deaths were in long-term care or assisted living facilities.

As of Tuesday, 357 people are hospitalized due to the coronavirus across the state, with 185 of them in the ICU. The overall hospitalization number is up from Monday, but ICU cases are down by one. Those numbers follow a trend of relatively stable or decreasing hospitalizations in recent weeks.

RELATED: MN Senate approves compromise bill for COVID-19 relief funds

RELATED: MDH Commissioner Malcolm weighs in on 'Window Visit' guidelines and cost of ongoing separation

KARE 11’s coverage of the coronavirus is rooted in Facts, not Fear. Visit kare11.com/coronavirus for comprehensive coverage, find out what you need to know about the Midwest specifically, learn more about the symptoms, and see what businesses are open as the state slowly lifts restrictions. Have a question? Text it to us at 763-797-7215. And get the latest coronavirus updates sent right to your inbox every morning. Subscribe to the KARE 11 Sunrise newsletter here. Help local families in need: www.kare11.com/give11

The state of Minnesota has set up a hotline for general questions about coronavirus at 651-201-3920 or 1-800-657-3903, available 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. There is also a data portal online at mn.gov/covid19.

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