Tuesday, June 23
- MDH: Low child vaccination numbers could lead to 'tragic consequences'
- Public health officials watching uptick in COVID-19 cases in Mower County
- Coronavirus positive testing rate for protesters stands at below 2%
- Youth sports to resume this week in Minnesota
The Walz administration announced Tuesday The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) is now accepting applications from businesses wishing to tap into the $62.5 million Small Business Relief Grants Program signed into law last week.
“COVID-19 has brought historic challenges for our small business owners," Walz said in a statement Tuesday. "This program is a result of bipartisan collaboration and conversations with the communities most impacted by this pandemic. I encourage our small business owners to apply for this funding, which will provide a lifeline for our communities and help Minnesota build a stronger and more equitable economy."
According to an afternoon press release put out by the Governor's office, businesses with 50 or fewer employees are now eligible to apply for grants up to $10,000.
Echoing the governor's sentiment, Lieutenant Governor Flanagan said, “Minnesota’s small business owners deserve support through this unprecedented time. I’m proud of this program to support our historically under-supported communities, including our business owners who are women, veterans, Black, Indigenous, and people of color. But we have a lot of work left to do to rebuild our communities.”
The money is intended to be spread evenly across regions of Greater Minnesota and the Twin Cities metro. The release states at least $10 million will go toward minority-owned businesses, $2.5 million toward veteran-owned businesses and $2.5 million toward female-owned businesses.
The release states by law an additional $2.5 million will be allocated for grants up to $250,000 each to the operators of cultural malls, in order to sustain existing tenants.
The Governor's Office states that applications will be evaluated immediately for a 10-day period ending on July 2 at 5 p.m. Eligible businesses will be selected using a randomized lottery process in partnership with the Minnesota Lottery - which will then be observed by an independent third party, the release states.
Grants will be administered by "qualified local and regionally based nonprofit agencies," and can be allocated toward supporting payroll expenses, rent, mortgage payments, utility bills, "and other similar business expenses."
Applications and more information can be found on DEED's website.
New numbers released Tuesday by the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) reflect another day of single-digit deaths from COVID-19.
Nine Minnesotans perished from the virus over the last 24-hour reporting period, raising the number of fatalities to 1,393 since the pandemic began. Of those deaths, 1,101, or 79% of them occurred in long-term or assisted living settings.
MDH says 245 people tested positive for the coronavirus in the past day, elevating the number of confirmed cases to 33,469. Private and state labs processed an additional 7,261 tests, for a total of 520,045 since the department started compiling statistics in late January.
Currently 339 patients are hospitalized with complications from COVID-19, with 158 of them being cared for in the ICU. A total of 3,860 have been treated in hospitals since the start of the pandemic.
Health officials say Minnesotans continue to recover from the virus, with 29,399 people who at one time tested positive now recovered to the point they no longer require isolation.
Of those testing positive for the coronavirus, people ages 30 to 39 make up the largest segment with 6,715 cases, followed by those between 20 and 29 who account for 6,629 cases. People from 80 to 89 have tested positive just 1,514 times, but account for 477 of Minnesota's deaths.
Monday, June 22
The Minnesota Department of health (MDH) is issuing a warning about two areas of concern in light of the COVID-19 pandemic: decreased use of emergency rooms, and decreased vaccinations for children.
MDH Infectious Disease Division Director Kris Ehresmann said they're seeing a drop-off in the percentage of children getting their vaccines because parents are not going in for well-child visits. About three months ago, the MMR vaccination for measles, mumps and rubella was down by 70% as compared to 2019. Last week it was down by about 34%.
"We know that if introduced that measles can take off anytime we have low vaccination rates," Ehresmann said, referencing Minnesota's outbreak in 2017.
"As we take our eye off very critical preventive measures, we may see some very tragic consequences of that," MDH Commissioner Jan Malcolm said.
Ehresmann also said she wanted to put in an "early plug" for the influenza vaccine.
"Thinking ahead this year it will be even more important that we have as many people protected from influenza as we can," she said.
Ehresmann said national data that includes Minnesota also shows a 23% decrease in ER visits for heart attacks, 20% decrease for stroke, and 10% for hyperclycemic crises. That data is taken from the 10 weeks after the national emergency was declared for coronavirus, and compared with the 10 weeks prior.
Ehresmann said MDH wants to make sure that people who are experiencing signs of serious illness seek emergency care.
Malcolm said that the new COVID-19 case numbers reported Monday are not a big change from what they've been seeing lately.
"We are still seeing that couple days up, couple days down pattern," she said.
There were 308 new cases reported Monday, based on the positive tests that were confirmed Sunday. That decrease came after a couple days of increase, with 430 on Friday and 460 on Saturday. Before that, 360 new cases were identified Thursday.
The median age of cases is now 40.4 years old in Minnesota. Ehresmann said that is likely because they have expanded testing beyond just older, more vulnerable populations.
Although overall hospitalizations increased Monday for the first time in just under a week, Malcolm said there is a "stable hospitalization picture" from COVID-19. However, she said, "Many of the hospitals still are running at a very high occupancy rate from other business."
More than 15,000 people have been tested at community sites and by HealthPartners after the large gatherings and protests following George Floyd's death in Minneapolis police custody. Malcolm said the positivity rate so far is under 2%.
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The state of Minnesota has set up a data portal online at mn.gov/covid19.