ST PAUL, Minn. — Thursday, June 25
- MDH: Nearly 200 COVID-19 cases reported at 4 Amazon facilities in Minnesota
- Entire Minneapolis family tests positive for coronavirus
- MN Zoo opens for drive-thru tours after COVID-19 closure
Governor Walz and Lieutenant Governor Flanagan announced a plan on Thursday to provide nearly $853 million in aid to communities impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to a news release, the plan - which still requires approval from the Legislative Advisory Commission - would allocate $841 million of the funds to counties, cities and towns to assist these government entities with their COVID relief efforts. The additional $12 million is intended to combat hunger across the state, by supporting local food shelves and food banks.
“As we work to support the health and safety of all Minnesotans during the COVID-19 pandemic, we are also taking steps to build a stronger and more equitable economy,” Governor Walz said in a statement. “This funding will bring much-needed relief to communities across the state as we continue to battle this pandemic together.”
In justification for the $12 million component, the government cites "unprecedented demand" for the products provided by food shelves and food banks. There has been a nearly 30% jump in food shelf visits since the pandemic began dramatically impacting American life. The release cites a 20% to 40% increase in distributed products via food banks since 2019, amounting to approximately 2.4 million pounds of food being distributed per week.
“Access to nutritious food is a cornerstone of a safe and healthy life, and for too many Minnesotans, that need hasn’t gone away during this pandemic—it has increased,” said Lieutenant Governor Flanagan in the news release. “Using CARES Act funding to alleviate this need is one way we can directly improve the lives of Minnesotans most impacted by COVID-19. While the Legislature was not able to come to a final agreement to distribute this funding, their work was critical in determining the greatest needs across our state.”
The release goes on to state that the $841 million allocated to support local relief efforts can be used to fund local government services, in addition to providing grants for businesses, hospitals and individuals impacted by COVID.
The funding will be distributed by the Minnesota Department of Revenue (MDR) based on a "per capita formula developed by the state legislature during special session." The formula is as follows.
- Counties with population under 500,000: $121.28 x county population
- Cities with population over 200: $75.34 x city population
- Organized towns with population over 5,000: $75.34 x organized town population
- Towns with population over 200 and under 4,999: $25 x town population
The release states that funding for cities or towns under 200 individuals will be distributed by their respective counties using the following formula.
- Cities with population under 200: $75.34 x city population
- Organized towns with population under 200: $25 x town population
If the funding is approved by congress, MDR will begin to dole out the aid on a "rolling basis" starting the week of June 29, 2020.
The latest numbers from the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) reflect a shift in the age group that accounts for the largest number of COVID-19 cases in the state.
Minnesotans between the ages of 20 and 29 are now the largest group of those testing positive, accounting for 6,854 confirmed cases of the coronavirus. That age group nudged ahead of those 30 to 39, who account for 6,834 cases and were previously the largest group of those testing positive.
People between the ages of 80 and 89 make up just 1,526 of the cases, but the largest number of deaths with 481.
Between private and state labs 13,072 coronavirus tests were processed in the latest 24-hour reporting period, revealing an additional 365 confirmed cases of the virus. That brings the total of Minnesotans testing positive to 34,123 since the pandemic began.
MDH says nine more people died of complications from COVID-19, bringing Minnesota's total fatalities to 1,406. Of those, 1,107 deaths, or 79%, occurred in long-term or assisted living settings. An additional 35 deaths are listed as COVID-19 probable, meaning the virus is listed on that person's death certificate but a positive test has not been documented.
Currently 336 people are hospitalized with symptoms of coronavirus, with 162 being treated in the ICU. Both numbers have been fairly steady or trending downward over the past several weeks.
Of those who have tested positive for COVID-19, 29,854 have recovered to the point they no longer require isolation.
Wednesday, June 24
Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) Infectious Disease Division Director Kris Ehresmann is emphasizing the importance of social distancing as the state continues to loosen regulations related to the coronavirus. Ehresmann used an example of a group of individuals who said they visited multiple bars over the weekend of June 12-13, and also work in child care or health care facilities.
"We want to make sure that, even as we're happily taking advantage of the opening up of bars and restaurants, that people -- even if you're young and even if you feel your personal risk of COVID is low -- that you are continuing to social distance and wear masks if possible," Ehresmann said. "We really want to emphasize this because, obviously the impact may be less for these age groups, but it has the potential to have secondary transmission to other parts of the community and individuals who may be at greater risk."
Ehresmann acknowledged the eagerness of people to socialize given the quarantine and the summer weather, but stressed the importance of social distancing and taking precautions whenever possible.
"You can still be at a bar and have a drink, but you need to make sure that it's not crowded and that you're attentive to the issues of social distancing," she said. "Once you get into a crowded setting, that's where you have the greater opportunity for transmission."
When asked about the outbreak at the Amazon fulfillment center in Shakopee where at least 88 people tested positive for COVID-19, Ehresmann said a majority of those cases occurred in May, and they've seen a significant decrease since that time.
"We worked with the facility," Ehresmann said. "We have a workplace team that reached out to them, has worked with them in terms of steps they can take to improve the safety of the workplace for their employees, and they have taken those steps and we've seen a reduction in cases."
Major League Baseball announced on Tuesday that players will be reporting to camp no later than July 1, putting the league on track for a possible start to the season by the end of July. Games will initially be played with no crowds, but the potential to phase in a limited number of people exists, depending on the number of cases over the next few months.
"It certainly is possible," Erhesmann said of crowds at Target Field. "I wouldn't say that it's not possible, but I also think you want to be cautious because, as I said, you're bringing people together and if there's the opportunity for crowding, that's where we really see transmission happening."
For the fourth straight day, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) is reporting single-digit deaths due to COVID-19.
MDH reported five additional deaths in the latest 24-hour reporting period, which was released on Wednesday, bringing the total number of statewide fatalities to 1,397. Of those deaths, 1,102, or 79% of them, occurred in long-term or assisted living settings.
MDH reported an additional 304 confirmed cases out of a total 9,547 people who were tested by state and private labs. Minnesota has 33,763 confirmed cases of the coronavirus since the pandemic began. MDH has processed a total of 529,643 tests since the department started compiling statistics in late January.
Health officials say 340 people are currently hospitalized due to COVID-19, including 160 that require intensive care. A total of 3,897 patients have been hospitalized since the pandemic began. MDH says 29,707 people who at one time tested positive for the coronavirus have now recovered to the point they no longer require isolation.
People between the age of 30 and 39 make up the most positive cases with 6,757, followed closely by people 20 to 29, who have accounted for 6,747 of the total number of COVID-19 cases. People between the age of 80 and 89 account for the most deaths in one age group with 477.
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 companies in Minnesota are hiring. 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.