MN Government Updates 05.01

Department of Health Briefing

Officials from the Minnesota Department of Health and other state officials held a conference call with reporter this afternoon to update the public on state efforts responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Commissioner Jan Malcolm, Department of Health

  • Commissioner Malcolm announced the state has 596 more laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19. This brings the state total to 5,730 cases.
  • There have been 28 more deaths since yesterday’s report. 24 of the 28 were residents of long-term care facilities. A total of 371 Minnesotans have died due to COVID-19.
  • Currently, 369 patients are in the hospital for COVID-19 – with 118 of those in the ICU.
  • The commissioner announced that 4,124 molecular COVID-19 tests were conducted yesterday.
  • The Department of Health is working with the State Emergency Operations Center to get more testing materials such as lab supplies, reagents, and personal protective equipment. The state is going to begin receiving 47,000 swabs per week through FEMA.
  • When asked when the next COVID-19 model will be run, the commissioner responded that the newest model will be run in the middle of next week and it will be available on the state’s COVID-19 website.
  • When asked why the stay-at-home order was extended, Commissioner Malcolm responded that it’s an unprecedented situation and “we’re getting our arms around the true spread of the disease.” She went on to say it’s possible “we could be on the verge of a tipping point” like some communities have seen. She said the governor is taking a multi-faceted approach to adjusting the stay-at-home order as things progress that doesn’t rely on a single data point.

Director Kris Ehresmann, Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Prevention, and Control Division (MDH)

  • Director Ehresman said that the department doesn’t believe that COVID-19 is acting any differently in Minnesota long-term care facilities than in other states. It’s possible that other states may be reporting long-term care deaths differently.
  • She said the department feels confident that its data on long-term care deaths is accurate.
  • When asked about the number of cases within long-term care facilities, Director Ehresman responded that there are 21 facilities with 20 or more cases. The majority of facilities have one or two cases. Some facilities have volunteered to take COVID-19 patients.

Director Joe Kelly, Homeland Security and Emergency Management Division

  • Director Kelly announced that the request for more funding for crisis counseling assistance from the federal government remains under review.
  • However, he said that President Trump has recently delegated authority to the director of FEMA to issue approvals for such funding requests. Director Kelly anticipates knowing soon when those resources will be available for Minnesota.

Walz Signs Executive Order on Food Truck Operation

Today, Governor Walz signed Executive Order 20-49 permitting food trucks to operate at up to six highway rest stops in Minnesota.

As many restaurants across the U.S. have closed, restrictions pertaining to commercial activities at highway rest areas have restricted fresh food options for truck drivers operating in Minnesota. This executive order will provide an additional option for truck drivers, who play a critical role in supporting the supply chain and depend on eating their meals on the road.

Next Week

Both the House and Senate have scheduled floor sessions for Monday. On Tuesday, Minnesota Management and Budget (MMB) is expected to provide an updated budget forecast based on the impact COVID-19 has had on the state.

Amos A. Briggs | Government Relations
LOCKRIDGE GRINDAL NAUEN P.L.L.P.
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