ST PAUL, Minn. — Wednesday, June 10
- Gov. Tim Walz calls special session Friday
- Walz, Lt. Gov. Flanagan test negative for COVID-19
- COVID-19 hospitalizations lowest in weeks
- Restaurants optimistic about return to indoor dining as phase 3 opens
- MDH clarifies public health guidance for youth sports
Gov. Tim Walz is planning to extend the state's COVID-19 peacetime emergency for an additional 30 days, and will call the Minnesota Legislature into a special session starting at noon on Friday, June 12.
The current peacetime emergency expires Friday, but Walz said the emergency powers are necessary to quickly respond to the pandemic. Minnesota law requires the legislature to be in session in order for the governor to extend a peacetime emergency order. The legislature does have the power to end the peacetime emergency with a majority vote by both houses.
As part of the special session, the governor is also asking the legislature to address his bonding proposal, a jobs plan, and economic assistance for businesses impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
Walz also noted Minnesota entered "phase three" of its reopening plan on Wednesday. The eased restrictions now allow larger gatherings and additional business reopenings, which includes resuming limited indoor dining.
"We turned the dial as the data seems to support that," Walz said. "The pandemic is far from over. It's in a new phase."
The governor noted 19 other states are seeing coronavirus cases climbing sharply after reopening, while Minnesota is not currently in that situation. Data released by the Minnesota Department of Health shows the average number of COVID-19 cases in the state have been declining in recent days, though Wednesday's figures did show a small one-day increase.
Gov. Walz encouraged those who recently attended protests and gatherings in the George Floyd case to seek a coronavirus test. Walz and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan said they were both tested recently and received negative results for COVID-19.
Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) Commissioner Jan Malcolm says current coronavirus case counts and case positivity rates remain below levels seen in the state in late May, but she cautioned the numbers do not yet reflect potential impacts from reopening more businesses, as well as potential spread among people participating in recent demonstrations and gatherings following the death of George Floyd.
Malcolm noted Wednesday marks the beginning of "phase three" for reopening businesses and easing restrictions on gatherings in Minnesota.
"The work in recent weeks has left us in better position to turn the dials," Malcolm said. "For this reopening to work ... it's very important that each of us do our individual part to prevent the spread."
The commissioner emphasized that face coverings are still strongly encouraged in public gatherings, practice social distancing of six feet or more, wash hands, and work from home when possible.
"We don't know what the future shape of the curve will be," Malcolm said. "We really need to figure out how to live with this ... What we're doing is accepting a certain level of risk."
Malcolm also addressed testing availability for those involved in recent protests and gatherings. Four community testing sites were opened in Minneapolis and St. Paul, with more than 1,100 tests conducted at those locations on Tuesday. Malcolm encouraged people interested in testing at these locations to sign up for an appointment on the MDH website, as the testing locations have limited capacity for walk-in visits. All appointments for Wednesday were filled, but additional dates are planned for June 16, 17, 23, and 24. The goal is to get results within 72 hours. Those who test positive will receive a phone call reporting those results to them, while those who test negative will receive an email or text message.
Malcolm noted COVID-related hospitalizations have been declining recently, but non-COVID hospital uses have increased as restrictions have been eased on elective surgeries and procedures. MDH is also monitoring ICU capacity: the department's response dashboard shows 1,075 ICU beds currently in use, out of a total capacity of 1,255 in the state. Of those ICU cases, 193 are COVID patients according to the daily numbers.
While case numbers have declined in recent weeks, MDH officials say it's too early to determine if Minnesota has reached the peak of coronavirus cases. Malcolm said the state's preparations, including extra hospital beds that have gone unused thus far, remain necessary.
"It's too early to say, have we peaked ... and did we over-prepare," Malcolm said. "It's possible we could see the pattern shift again and the cases start to grow."
Health officials said there's also a possibility of a resurgence of COVID-19 in the winter, which could present additional challenges.
"We have been responding to COVID post-influenza, so we didn't have a concurrent influenza outbreak," said MDH Infectious Disease Director Kris Ehresmann. "(That) will put a greater demand on our surge capacity for health care."
Health officials said they continue to work with Mayo Clinic and the University of Minnesota on increased serological testing, which can show if a patient previously had COVID-19 and now has antibodies to fight the illness.
The number of Minnesotans hospitalized with symptoms of COVID-19 is the lowest it's been in weeks, according to new figures released Wednesday by the Minnesota Department of Health. (MDH).
Hospitals across the state are currently caring for 427 coronavirus patients, with 193 of them requiring treatment in the ICU.
Tests processed in the last 24-hour reporting period show an additional 352 people have tested positive for the virus, bringing the total to 28,869 since the pandemic began. Total tests processed in private and state labs stand at 369,795, with 8,859 being completed in the last day.
MDH says 19 more Minnesotans have died of COVID-19, bringing the number of fatalities in the state to 1,236. Of those deaths, 984 involved people in long-term care or assisted living settings.
Of those who have tested positive for the virus, 24,675 have recovered enough to no longer require isolation.
People ages 30 to 39 account for the majority of confirmed cases with 5,861, while those 20 to 29 number 5,427 cases. Those between 80 and 89 account for just 1,393 cases, but 426 deaths, the most of any age group.
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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.
Tuesday, June 9
New numbers released Tuesday by the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) show fatalities from COVID-19 have passed another milestone, exceeding the 1,200 mark.
MDH says 20 more Minnesotans have perished from the virus, pushing the total since the pandemic started to 1,217. Of that number 968, or just under 80%, have occurred in long-term or assisted living settings.
Another 307 Minnesotans tested positive for the coronavirus in the last 24-hour reporting period, elevating to 28,523 the number of total confirmed cases in the state. A total of 360,991 tests have been performed since COVID-19 arrived in Minnesota, 7,779 in the past day.
Those between the ages of 30 and 39 account for the largest number of confirmed cases with 5,787. People between 20 and 29 make up 5,355 cases. Those ages 80 to 89 account for just 1,374 of the confirmed cases but 419 deaths, 34% of Minnesota's total.
Hospitalizations seem to have leveled off, with steady numbers the past three days. At this time 455 people are being treated for symptoms of the virus in hospitals across the state, with 199 of them showing symptoms serious enough to require treatment in the ICU.
MDH says 24,221 people who at one time tested positive for COVID-19 have recovered enough that they no longer require isolation.