MN Government Updates 09.02

Minnesota Department of Health Briefing

This afternoon, officials from the Minnesota Department of Health conducted a press briefing with reporters to update the public on the spread of COVID-19 in the state. Additionally, Deputy Education Commissioner Heather Mueller joined the briefing to answer questions about the COVID-19 saliva tests for school staff.

Commissioner Jan Malcolm, Department of Health

  • Commissioner Malcolm reported 761 new laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19. This brings the state’s total number of COVID-19 cases to 77,085.
  • Due to a backlog of tests, there were 27,487 tests processed yesterday.
  • 16,865 of these were backlogged tests.
  • Without this backlog, we would’ve seen 419 positive cases of COVID-19 and 10,829 tests processed.
  • Some of these backlogged cases originate from March.
  • There were seven additional fatalities due to COVID-19. This brings the state’s total number of COVID-19 deaths to 1,830.
  • Currently, 297 patients are hospitalized for COVID-19 with 135 of those in the ICU.
  • Hospitalizations rose by three.
  • ICU bed use decreased by one.
  • The seven-day COVID-19 test positivity average is 5.2% (as of August 23). This is up from 4.9% from the week prior.
  • Commissioner Malcolm said that thousands of staff through schools and childcare programs will receive saliva testing as part of the Safe Learning Plan for the 2020-2021 school year.

They can access testing through their primary care provider, but the state also wanted to provide access more immediately for those providing education and care to children and youth.

Saliva testing grows and diversifies the state’s testing capacity. The state hopes this testing will provide a reliable and quick option for those seeking a test.

State agencies are collaborating with school districts to send unique codes for saliva test requests. While teachers and staff are not required to take a COVID-19 test to return to school or a childcare setting, the state highly encourages teachers and staff to use the saliva tests when they feel it is needed.

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

  • Director Ehresmann reported that up to 50 COVID-19 cases have been associated with the Sturgis motorcycle rally and there has been one death from it.
  • She said this underscores the importance of what Dr. Deborah Birx, White House Coronavirus Task Force Coordinator, said over the weekend:
  • Maintain social distance
  • Wear a mask
  • Avoid large crowds.
  • Director Ehresmann also made a point to respond to an online rumor that children who test positive for COVID-19 have been taken into custody by child protective services. This rumor is false.
  • When asked about whether Minnesota received a request from the White House to amplify vaccine delivery abilities by November 1, Director Ehresmann responded that the state was made aware of the request and that the Minnesota Department of Health has been working to prepare for vaccination all summer. “We’re going to build on the relationships we’ve established and move that forward knowing there may be a need to vaccinate this fall,” said Ehressmann.

Deputy Commissioner Heather Mueller, Department of Education

  • When asked about how many saliva tests are available to school staff, Deputy Commissioner Mueller responded that about 250,000 saliva tests are available. They are for one-time use through the end of 2020. W2 school employees qualify, but contract employees do not. However, contract employees can seek testing elsewhere.
  • When asked about how regularly school staff are being encouraged to take this test, Deputy Commissioner Mueller responded that the test is for staff who feel ill or if they have been in contact with someone who tested positive and are unable to get into a local provider. One test is available to them.

Amos A. Briggs | Government Relations
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