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Live updates: With MN up to 17 COVID-19 deaths, Walz urges 'Stay at Home' compliance

"Minnesota has done a pretty good job but I'm gonna be the first to tell you, we need to continue to do better," Walz said.
Credit: Associated Press

Wednesday, April 1 

3:30 p.m.

With Minnesota COVID-19 related deaths up to 17, Gov. Tim Walz says making sure people abide by the "Stay at Home" order is one of his "bigger concerns."

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) reported Wednesday that confirmed cases in the state are up to 689. They also reported an additional five deaths, bringing the total number of people in the state killed by the virus up to 17.

"What we do know is that social distancing works," Walz said on his daily update call with state health officials Wednesday. "Minnesota has done a pretty good job but I'm gonna be the first to tell you, we need to continue to do better."

Walz said they'll be launching a media campaign to help educate the public further on the importance of staying home.

"I am asking and imploring people, the more we do this the more lives we save," he said. "The more we do this the better chance we have to get out of this sooner, I believe, because we will start to catch up with some of the testing and the isolation of the people who most need it."

Walz said that if he decides to extend the "Stay at Home" order past April 10, he will make that determination in the beginning or middle of next week.

Walz and state officials said their requests for more coronavirus testing supplies from the federal government have gone unanswered. MDH Commissioner Jan Malcolm said some of the chemical reagents they need for testing are backordered, and their public health laboratory has enough for 600 more tests. They have other methods of testing, but that specific one is their highest capacity testing platform.

Fortunately, Malcolm said, hospitals are developing their own testing platforms and some other testing strategies are being developed but are not yet on the market. She said they are figuring those things into their forward-looking strategy.

Protective equipment for health care workers, like masks, also continue to be in short supply.

"Governors are deeply concerned about the shortage of personal protective equipment," Walz said after a call with all the governors in the country.

Director of Emergency Management Joe Kelly said if people are able to make cloth masks, that they should first give them to people in public-facing or high-contact situations like transit drivers; Department of Corrections workers and inmates; and health care workers who do not directly interact with patients like food service and janitorial staff. Medical-grade masks are going first to front-line health care workers who interact with patients.

Malcolm acknowledged that the general public wearing cloth masks to keep from spreading coronavirus to others, in case they are asymptomatic carriers, "would not be overprotective at this point."

MDH Infectious Disease Director Kris Ehresmann said, however, that "while this may be useful for everyone down the road," their first priority with even the cloth masks is that they're available in health care facilities and congregate care settings like assisted living or prisons.

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With the holidays coming up, Malcolm strongly urged Minnesotans to not gather with people outside of their household.

Malcolm also encouraged people to donate blood, since the supply is low due to blood drive cancellations. She said donating blood is still safe and can be done while practicing social distance.

This April is the first since 1883 in which baseball will not be played due to extraordinary circumstances, according to Walz. The Governor's Fishing Opener in Otter Tail County has also been postponed until 2021. The fishing opener itself, however, is on as scheduled.

Gov. Walz reminded Minnesotans to fill out the Census form received by mail. The form can also be filled out online.

RELATED: April 1 is 'Census Day' in the United States

Steve Grove, Commissioner of the Department of Employment and Economic Development, gave an update on unemployment, saying the state has received 272,766 applications since March 16. That's more than they received in all of 2019.

Grove said that people will receive their unemployment checks a week or two after they apply, and checks will be back-dated to the day they were separated from work.

Grove also pointed out that for those laid off from work, including health care workers furloughed due to the freeze on elective surgeries, there are still places hiring.

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Ehresmann gave more details on the five deaths reported Wednesday, saying they were a 76-year-old from Winona County, a 92-year-old and an 82-year-old from Hennepin County, an 81-year-old from Martin County, and an 81-year-old from Dakota County.

Walz announced he'll give the State of the State this Sunday night, April 5, at 7 p.m. via remote video conference from his residence.

2 p.m.

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services says there are now 1,550 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the state. Those include 398 hospitalizations. 

Twenty-four people in the state have died as of Wednesday.

Milwaukee County has the most cases at 780, with 11 deaths. Dane County has 215 confirmed cases and two deaths. And Ozaukee County, with 46 cases, has seen three deaths.

11 a.m.

The Minnesota Department of Health has reported five additional deaths related to COVID-19 in the state, and another 60 cases confirmed.

That brings Minnesota's total count of official cases to 689 as of Wednesday. Seventeen people have died, according to MDH.

Those numbers are considered the "tip of the iceberg," as coronavirus is believed to be circulating widely. State officials are urging the public to stay home and practice social distancing, as Gov. Tim Walz's "Stay at Home" order remains in effect.

Crow Wing, Freeborn and Yellow Medicine Counties all saw their first confirmed cases reported on Wednesday. Hennepin County still has the most cases at 218, with Olmsted and Ramsey Counties both above 60.

Fifty-four people are hospitalized as of Wednesday, with 27 in the ICU. In total, MDH says 122 people have needed to be hospitalized. A total of 342 people who tested positive no longer need to be isolated.

In breaking down data on the cases, health officials say the median age of those testing positive is 47, while the median age of those dying from the virus is 84. The total age range in cases runs from 4 months to 104 years.

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Community transmission is now considered to be the cause of the largest number of cases, at 30%. Twenty-one percent had known exposure to a case, and 20% traveled to another state.

At this point in the pandemic more than 20,000 Minnesotans have been tested by MDH or an outside lab.

Tuesday, March 31

2 p.m.

Governor Tim Walz is encouraging people to continue practicing social distancing. He said the crowds outside are too big, especially around the lakes.

Walz has signed two additional executive orders. The first gives an extension for license renewals for first responders to continue doing their jobs.The second order allows the continuation of the medical cannabis program and allows curbside delivery. 

Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said emergency rooms and hospitals need to prioritize homeless shelters and domestic violence shelters in testing along with long term care facilities.

Malcolm said officials are working on how to treat patients in long term facilities and avoid hospital transfers in order to stop transferring the virus.

LISTENMDH coronavirus update for 3-31-2020

The age range of patients with confirmed cases ranges from 4 months to 104 years.

The 4-month-old is doing well, officials said. 

Minnesota Director of the Emergency Management Joe Kelly said the process of selecting locations for alternate care sites is underway and conversions will begin after that. "We hope the additional capacity hospitals are generating right now will be adequate... but hope is not a plan," Kelly said.

Deputy Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Education Heather Muller said federal officials have officially given them a waiver to postpone MCA standardized testing until next year.

RELATED: Live updates from Tuesday, March 31

11 a.m.

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) has reported 12 deaths due to coronavirus in the state. This is up from 10 the day before. 

The number of patients testing positive for COVID-19 is now at 629, up from 576 cases.

The total approximate number of tests completed is 19,780.

8,104 of the tests were done at MDH labs.

Health officials say the total number of cases requiring hospitalization is 112, and 56 patients are currently hospitalized with symptoms of the coronavirus. 

Of the cases that tested positive for coronavirus, MDH says 288 no longer have to be isolated.

The median age of those testing positive for coronavirus in the state is 46. Patients range in age from 4 months to 104 years old.

The median age for deaths related to the virus is 86, with the youngest victim being 58 and the oldest 95 years old. 

There are three confirmed cases in children ranging from ages 0 to 5.

Hennepin County has the most cases in the state, with 204 confirmed.

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.

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.

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