MN Government Updates 08.31

Minnesota Department of Health Briefing

This afternoon, officials with the Minnesota Department of Health conducted a press briefing with reporters to update the public on the spread of COVID-19 in the state.

Commissioner Jan Malcolm, Department of Health

  • Commissioner Malcolm reported 679 new laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19. This brings the state’s total number of COVID-19 cases to 75,864.
  • There was one additional death due to COVID-19. This brings the total number of COVID-19 deaths in Minnesota to 1,817.
  • Currently, 306 patients are hospitalized for COVID-19 with 131 of those in the ICU.
  • Hospitalizations decreased by nine.
  • ICU bed use decreased by five.
  • 11,346 COVID-19 tests were processed yesterday.
  • The number of cases of Minnesota have increased faster than testing with a 7.6% increase in testing vs a 7.9% increase in the total number of positive cases.
  • The seven-day COVID-19 test positivity average is 5.2% (as of August 22). This is higher than the week prior of 4.9%.
  • Commissioner Malcolm provided a summary of the visit by Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House Coronavirus Task Force Coordinator, to Minnesota and North Dakota over the weekend.
  • Dr. Birx came to visit with governors, state health officials, and local public health officials. She spoke about the importance of bringing down Minnesota’s high level of community transmission of COVID-19 as the fall approaches – especially as schools reopen and people are spending less time outside as the weather changes.
  • Minnesota’s metropolitan area has not seen a decrease in cases for a number of weeks and that’s an issue of concern for the White House Coronavirus Task Force.
  • Dr. Birx said COVID-19 is not just an urban issue. It’s affecting rural communities as well.
  • The commissioner stated that there have been too many instances of people not aware of or fatigued by COVID-19 mitigations measures. People have been having house parties without safeguards in place.
  • She also warned Minnesotans about gathering in large numbers as Labor Day approaches. Informal gatherings have been a week spot in the statewide response to the pandemic, according to the commissioner.
  • Minnesotans behavior in public places like grocery stores and retail shops have not been the source of problems.
  • “We cannot afford to have Labor Day weekend accelerate our community spread,” said Commissioner Malcolm.
  • She concluded by saying that it feels like Minnesota is walking on the edge of a cliff. If we don’t take the risks more seriously and exercise the precautions, Minnesota could see itself mirroring situations like Florida or Arizona from several weeks ago.

Director Kris Ehresmann, Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Prevention, and Control Division

  • Director Ehresmann said that the case numbers Minnesota is seeing is due to outbreaks from large social events. There were nine outbreaks from weddings and two from funerals.
  • Since June, the state has had over 500 cases linked to social gatherings or events.
  • Winona County is seeing an upswing in cases among 18-to-24-year olds. This aligns with the return of students to higher education institutions.
  • Director Ehresmann said that if Minnesotans want to enjoy social gatherings, they should do it safely by:

Keeping six feet of distancing

Wearing masks

Washing hands

  • When asked about increased enforcement of public health rules at bars and restaurants, Director Ehresmann said there have been 55 bars or restaurants in Minnesota have had COVID-19 cases associated with them. Of those 55, 31 have been at the point where they meet the threshold for releasing the names to the media. Thus far, a total of 1,286 COVID-19 cases have been linked to bars and restaurants in the state.

Amos A. Briggs | Government Relations
100 Washington Avenue S | Suite 2200 | Minneapolis MN  55401

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