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The daily coronavirus update: 1 more death; what to do about masks

COVID-19
Photo: CDC/Alissa Eckert
COVID-19

For the foreseeable future, MinnPost will be providing daily updates on coronavirus in Minnesota, published following the press phone call conducted by the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) with Gov. Tim Walz and administration officials each afternoon.

Here are the latest updates from April 6, 2020:

986 confirmed cases; 30 deaths

One more Minnesotan has died of COVID-19, the Minnesota Department of Health said Monday, for a total of 30. The person was a 98-year-old resident of an assisted living facility in Ramsey County.

MDH also said Monday there have been 986 total confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Minnesota, up from 935 on Sunday. Because Minnesota doesn’t have the capacity to test everybody with symptoms, the number of people with the virus is assumed to be significantly higher. (Mondays also tend to bring smaller increases in cases because testing infrastructure slows down over the weekend.)

Since the start of the outbreak, 223 Minnesotans have been hospitalized and 115 are currently in the hospital. Fifty-seven are in intensive care, up from 48 Sunday. There are 470 Minnesotans who previously tested positive for COVID-19 who no longer need to be isolated, which means they are considered to have recovered.

More information on cases can be found here.

Malcolm on masks and going to the doctor

Responding to new Centers for Disease Control guidance on wearing cloth masks in public where social distancing is difficult to maintain, Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm had a couple reminders for Minnesotans: First, people who are sick should stay home. Period.

Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm
MinnPost photo by Greta Kaul
Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm
“We just want to keep reinforcing that people who are sick need to be staying home and isolating, not feeling like it’s safe to go out into the community just because they’re wearing a mask,” Malcolm said.

And second, surgical masks and N95 masks should still be reserved for health care workers.

Another note: non-N95 masks are more effective at protecting those around the mask wearer from the wearer’s droplets, and less effective at protecting the wearer.

Malcolm also addressed reports that some Minnesotans are trying to avoid seeking care for things like stroke or heart attack symptoms, fearing clinics or hospitals could put them in contact with COVID-19. People who need care should seek care, Malcolm said.

“We really want to make sure Minnesotans are not delaying care for serious conditions,” she said.

Executive orders; other gubernatorial announcements

Gov. Tim Walz signed an additional two executive orders Monday:

  • Executive order 20-28 allows mental health professionals who are licensed out-of-state to treat Minnesotans via telehealth.
  • Executive order 20-29 amends an earlier unemployment-related executive order to streamline benefits.

As reports of discrimination rise in Minnesota’s Asian American community, Walz’s office also announced the launch of an anti-discrimination helpline, which aims to help the state’s Office of Human Rights collect reports about discrimination.

The helpline can be reached at 1-833-454-0148, and reports can be filed through this form.

Walz also announced $6.2 million in grants to Minnesota veterans affected by COVID-19. The $1,000 one-time grants are funded by the COVID-19 response package passed by the legislature and signed by Walz last month. More information can be found at minnesotaveteran.org/COVIDRelief

Unemployment update

Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development Commissioner Steve Grove said Monday that 120,000 more Minnesotans have applied for unemployment benefits in the last three weeks than in all of 2019. The official count is now at 342,043 since March 16.

Commissioner Steve Grove
MinnPost photo by Peter Callaghan
Commissioner Steve Grove
Under one of Monday’s executive orders, benefits for people taking sick pay, vacation or personal time but who are otherwise eligible for unemployment will no longer be delayed.

DEED is also working on application details for people who are self-employed or independent contractors, Grove said. He urged people who are self-employed or independent contractors to apply for unemployment insurance now to get into the system, even though they will be initially denied. DEED will reach out to people in these categories who are denied for benefits as soon as it gets approval from the federal government to enroll them.

Washington model specifics

Minnesotans have been citing a model of COVID-19’s spread made by researchers at the University of Washington as proof that the next few months might not look as bad as anticipated in Minnesota.

The model recently revised the number of deaths it predicts in Minnesota between the beginning of the outbreak here and Aug. 4 downward to 625 — far fewer than the 50,000 deaths a Minnesota model built by University of Minnesota and Minnesota Department of health researchers estimated last week (The U of M model is new and more Minnesota-specific data on social mitigation and ICU bed capacity is expected to be added to it, which will likely make the estimates less dire).

Malcolm noted two key differences between the UW model and the University of Minnesota model: One, the UW model makes some “particularly optimistic assumptions” about the level of social distancing that Malcolm doesn’t think could be expected to be seen in the U.S. or Minnesota. It also only goes out four months, where the UMN/MDH model (one of several the state is using to make decisions) goes out a year.

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Around the web

MDH’s coronavirus website: https://www.health.state.mn.us/diseases/coronavirus/index.html

Hotline, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.: 651-201-3920

Comments (2)

  1. Submitted by Pat Berg since 2011 on 04/06/2020 - 05:49 pm.

    For “Asking yourself how long it’s been since this all started?”, I think perhaps you meant to link to https://www.minnpost.com/health/2020/03/how-long-has-it-been/ rather than the https://www.minnpost.com/health/2020/03/tracking-the-minnesota-covid-19-numbers/ which the question actually links to and is linked to on the next point in the list.

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