MN Government Updates 05.26

Department of Health Briefing

Today, officials with the Minnesota Department of Health held a press briefing with reporters to update the public on state efforts to address the COVID-19 pandemic.

Commissioner Jan Malcolm, Department of Health

  • Commissioner Malcolm announced the state now has had 21,960 laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19. This is an increase of 2,117 over the longer weekend and 652 more since yesterday.
  • The median age for a COVID-19 case is 42-years-old.
  • The state has now had 899 deaths due to COVID-19. This is an increase of 47 over the holiday weekend and 18 yesterday. Of the 18 who passed away yesterday, 15 were residents of long-term care facilities.
  • Currently, 570 patients are in the hospital with 258 in the ICU.
  • Yesterday, over 5,800 tests were processed.
  • The commissioner announced that nearly all Minnesota health plans have agreed to extend the waiver of co-pays for hospitalizations through September 30. The initial agreement ran until June 1.
  • Additionally, Commissioner Malcolm announced that the Minnesota Department of Health has award $97.6 million in emergency healthcare grants to about 360 provider organizations across the state for preparing for and responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The grants were awarded to assisted living facilities, health care clinics, health centers, hospitals, health systems, pharmacies, transportation services, and tribal health. The list of grant recipients can be found here.
  • About half of the funds went to providers for additional staffing costs, with the next largest share of the funds going for supplies – including for personal protection equipment.
  • Response funds remain available and review of applications are still underway. The applications process will remain open until all funds have been spent. The department encourages people to submit their applications as soon as possible.
  • When asked about the 87% ICU capacity in the metro, the commissioner responded that it’s “not unusual for systems to run close to that level” and also noted that some of the increased ICU use is driven by complex elective surgeries resuming after the temporary deferment of such procedures.
  • When asked if she would be comfortable dining on a restaurant patio on June 1, Commissioner Malcolm responded that she would be after learning more about the restaurant’s new health practices, capacity, and whether workers and other patrons were wearing masks.

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

  • Director Ehresmann noted that the state has seen a jump in the number of ICU beds in use. From Sunday to Monday, there was a 41 ICU bed increase.
  • While the increase is the state’s largest one-day jump in ICU cases, it was not unexpected.
  • This past weekend, 87% of the state’s ICU beds in the metro were in use.
  • According to Ehresmann, it is not unusal for ICU beds to be at 90% full during the flu season.
    • The Minnesota Department of Health is working with hospitals as ICU issues arise.
    • When asked about Dr. Birx saying Minneapolis ranks fourth in the nation for metro areas with positive rates of COVID-19, Ehresmann responded that much of the testing has focused on long-term care facilities in Hennepin County and Minneapolis. The state has been doing testing in settings with an expected high positive rate of COVID-19. She also noted that some of the individuals tested who live in Minneapolis may work in a setting outside of Minneapolis where there have been COVID-19 outbreaks.

Amos A. Briggs | Government Relations
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