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U of M, Mayo readying COVID-19 antibody test

Plus: Minnesota inmate and corrections staffer test positive for COVID-19; Essentia Health lays off 500; gun stores see spike in sales due to coronavirus; and more.

Mayo Clinic
Mayo Clinic

The Star Tribune’s Jeremy Olson reports: “The University of Minnesota and Mayo Clinic are close to unveiling antibody tests that can determine if people have already been infected by the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 and are no longer threats to get or spread the infection. State health officials see these tests as a key part of Minnesota’s pandemic response, because they could define the breadth of the outbreak and maybe identify previously infected individuals who could move about in public freely and volunteer in response efforts.”

KSTP-TV reports:The Minnesota Department of Corrections announced Monday that an inmate and a staff member tested positive for COVID-19. The DOC said the inmate was located at Minnesota Correctional Facility-Moose Lake and the staff member is from the Minnesota Correctional Facility-Red Wing. Both the staff member and inmate are experiencing mild symptoms that do not require hospitalization.”

The Duluth News Tribune reports: “Essentia Health is placing more than 3% of its workforce on “special administrative leave,” the health system announced Monday. About 500 non-medical staff across the system will be affected, according to an Essentia news release. Essentia, which is based in Duluth, employs about 14,500 people in Minnesota, Wisconsin and North Dakota. Essentia projects a 20-40% decrease in revenue because of pandemic-related declines in the overall volume of patients, it said.”

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Also in the Star Tribune, Pam Louwagie writes: “Eugene Borchardt hadn’t traveled anywhere exotic in the last weeks of his life. …Friday, on the eighth day of his hospitalization, Borchardt became Martin County’s second COVID-19 fatality, underscoring the harsh reality that the global pandemic can quickly infiltrate and spread even in remote communities …. As of Monday, according to state health reports, two county residents had died from the virus out of 23 who had tested positive… making the small county an unexpected hotbed for the illness.”

At MPR, Brandt Williams says, “Spikes in gun sales typically follow mass shootings or the elections of presidents who are Democrats, as gun owners fear government restrictions on future firearms sales. But first-time gun buyers are fueling a recent surge in Minnesota gun sales. And the coronavirus pandemic is the main reason for their purchases, said John Munson, a gun store owner. … Munson said his stores saw ‘extreme numbers of people coming through the doors’ during a recent weekend — 1,300 to 1,400 people per day. He said that’s probably three times the sales he’d normally see at this time of year.”

In Forbes, Thomas Brewster writes, “On Monday, Forbes revealed Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceutical was handed $450 million to work on a preventative treatment for COVID-19. Later, the pharma giant confirmed the coronavirus vaccine could roll out to the public by early 2021. Now the company’s chief scientist says it will also spend $500 million as part of a $1 billion partnership with the U.S. government to research and produce a vaccine. And Paul Stoffels, chief scientific officer at Johnson & Johnson, says it will start manufacturing this month before the vaccine has gone through clinical trials or been approved by the FDA.”

A FOX 9 story says, “People in the North Loop are raising their voices in support of health care workers who don’t have the option of staying home. This is the second night of the event organized by the neighborhood association. Sunday night, people gathered outside their apartments at 7 p.m. to clap and cheer. The people who organized the cheer were inspired by what they saw happening across the globe, and they hope this continues to spread to other parts of the state.”

The Star Tribune’s Janet Moore and Brooks Johnson report, “Linnea Goderstad’s bicycle is her ticket to work, the grocery store, forays to see friends and family, and a way to exercise, too. So when Gov. Tim Walz designated bike shops essential businesses in his stay-at-home COVID-19 order last week, the northeast Minneapolis resident and year-round bike commuter cheered. After all, bicycles are a form of transportation. … While Walz urged Minnesotans to stay home, he also has encouraged outdoor exercise as long as people keep their distance.”