MN Government Updates 12.30

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 and discuss COVID-19 vaccination plans.

Commissioner Jan Malcolm, Department of Health 

  • Commissioner Malcolm noted that today is the one-year anniversary of when “this unusual infection in China began to be talked about.”
  • She reported 2,019 new cases of COVID-19. This brings the state’s total number of COVID-19 cases to 413,107.
  • Just over 25,700 COVID-19 tests were processed.
  • Currently, 926 patients are hospitalized due to COVID-19 with 207 of those in the ICU. Since the beginning of the pandemic, 21,748 patients have been hospitalized due to COVID-19 with 4,597 needing intensive care.
  • There were 66 additional COVID-19 deaths in Minnesota. This brings the total number of COVID-19 fatalities in the state to 5,262.
  • The Minnesota Department of Health is now sharing daily updates on the number of vaccinations in the state. Today’s update shows above 30,000 doses of vaccine have been administered as of Saturday, December 26.
  • The commissioner noted that she is happy that 2020 is ending with decreasing case counts in the last several weeks. Case growth is down a full 68% from the peak in mid-November. About half the number of people are hospitalized for COVID-19. However, case counts remain at high levels.

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

  • Director Ehresmann announced that starting yesterday, the vaccine administration data on the Minnesota Department of Health website will be updated every week day at 11:00 a.m.
  • She clarified that the vaccine distribution data reflects doses of vaccine allocated to Minnesota from the federal government and that other doses are coming in through other federal allocations (such as through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and Indian Health Service).
  • The data on doses administered is based on immunization information sent to the state through the Minnesota Immunizations Information Connection system, also known as MIIC.
  • The vaccine administration data is not expected to match the vaccine allocation data because it takes time for doses to get into the state to the right location, have the administration process set up, administered, and reported.
  • The Minnesota Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) has met three times. It has provided recommendations for the Phase 1A priority group, which includes healthcare workers and long-term care residents. This decision was made in early December.
  • ACIP will be meeting this afternoon and on January 18 for recommendations on Phase 1B, which will include people who are 75-years-old or older and frontline essential workers. Guidance is expected to be available for Phase 1B during the week of January 18.
  • The ACIP has a new webpage that details how the group works and allows for feedback ahead of meetings on recommendations for COVID-19 vaccination priority.

Dr. Ruth Lynfield, State Epidemiologist 

  • Dr. Lynfield reported that the state has been using a treatment called monoclonal antibodies to treat COVID-19 patients. This therapy has been shown to reduce hospitalization of COVID-19 patients.
  • The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services began distributing supplies to states during the week of November 9. The state has more than enough supply of the monoclonal antibody therapy.
  • The treatment is only effective if it is given to a sick person during the first 10 days of symptoms. Anyone who tests positive should notify their healthcare provider immediately after getting positive test results to discuss the therapy and where it can be received. It is for individuals with mild to moderate symptoms. People already hospitalized are not eligible for this treatment.
  • The Minnesota Department of Health’s screening tool for monoclonal antibody treatment can be found here.

Amos A. Briggs | Government Relations
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