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The daily coronavirus update: 7 more deaths; Minnesota hospitals say they’ll lose $2.9 billion over next 90 days

A total of 1,336 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in Minnesota, up 94 from Thursday.

Photo: CDC/Alissa Eckert

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 10, 2020:

1,336 confirmed cases; 57 deaths 

Seven more Minnesotans have died of COVID-19, state health officials said Friday. There have now been 57 deaths in the state according to the Minnesota Department of Health. Two of the people who died were in their 60s, three were in their 80s and two were in their 90s, MDH Commissioner Jan Malcolm said. Five of the seven deaths were long-term care residents. 

Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm
Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm
A total of 1,336 people have tested positive for the disease, up 94 from Thursday, though because Minnesota lacks testing capacity, the number of people with the virus is assumed to be far higher.

Since the outbreak began, 317 people have been hospitalized and 143 people are currently in the hospital. Of those, 64 are in intensive care, up from 63 on Thursday. There are 732 Minnesotans who previously tested positive for COVID-19, but no longer need to be isolated, which means they are considered to have recovered. Nearly 34,000 people have been tested between the state’s Public Health Laboratory and commercial labs.

More information on cases can be found here.

Most COVID-19 deaths in Minnesota are among people in long-term care

Thirty-six of the 57 people who have died from COVID-19 in Minnesota were residents of long-term care, according to MDH. Preventing deadly outbreaks in assisted living facilities continues to be a focus for state health officials, though the disease continues to spread into such homes. There are now 82 long-term care facilities across the state with at least one confirmed positive case among staff or residents. One week ago, only 47 assisted living homes had confirmed cases.

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Kris Ehresmann, the MDH infectious disease director, said the state has prioritized testing for people in long-term care since people who are elderly and have underlying conditions are at higher risk of dying from COVID-19. When cases are found, the state is “aggressively intervening,” she said. 

She also said several facilities have multiple cases and are considered “hot spots.”

The state is listing names of long-term care facilities with more than 10 total residents and at least one confirmed case on the MDH website.

Hospitals predict $2.9 billion in losses

Minnesota hospitals say they need more money from the federal government to stay afloat while handling the COVID-19 pandemic. The Minnesota Hospital Association says elective surgeries and procedures have been canceled or delayed, reducing the number of patients they see, all while hospitals are spending millions each day to buy equipment, supplies and remake their buildings to prepare for a surge in COVID-19 patients. Over the next 90 days, hospitals and health systems will lose $2.9 billion, according to the MHA.

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“I am concerned about our ability to maintain Minnesota’s high-quality health care across all parts of Minnesota into the future,” says a letter to the state’s Congressional delegation by association president Rahul Koranne.

The Mayo Clinic announced a sweep of pay cuts and furloughs on Friday because of the revenue losses.

Malcolm, the MDH commissioner, told reporters Friday hospital finances are “absolutely a worry.” She said Gov. Tim Walz has been in conversation with the congressional delegation about the problem. She said they have been talking about further economic assistance.

“Health care delivery systems are a big priority for the next federal bill, and not just more money for COVID-related costs or COVID preparations,” she said. “They need financial stability of their core operations.”

How the state will decide who can go back to work 

In his extended stay-home order issued Wednesday, Walz directed the Health Department and the Department of Employment and Economic Development to start planning for how to allow some non-critical workers to get back on the job when it’s safe to do so.

Malcolm said a state work group will help decide what industries might be the most compatible. Her advice is to consider businesses that can minimize direct contact between people, which they define as contact within six feet for more than 10 minutes at a time. But guidance for industries that might fill the bill could vary.

“I don’t think it’s going to be exactly black or white on types of industries — it may start out that way,” Malcolm said. 

Minnesota tax collections falling

Minnesota has gotten its first official look at what the COVID recession will do to state tax collections. In a quarterly update to its last revenue and spending forecast, Minnesota Management and Budget reported that collections of state taxes fell $103 million below what was predicted. Of that, $62 million was for March. 

“This shortfall reflects the pace of income tax refund processing, payment delays, and the beginning of the impact of deteriorating economic conditions on state tax revenues,” MMB stated in the update.

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But because the impacts of the layoffs and business closures caused by shutdowns and stay at home orders likely hit after the period covered by this report, the Friday report does not show most of the impact.

“The cumulative shortfall will grow as ongoing unemployment drives employer payrolls well below our forecast levels,” the report stated. On Monday, state economist Laura Kalambokidis detailed modeling done by her office that suggested shortfalls from the recession to be between $1.5 billion and $3 billion, or more. 

Today on MinnPost

  • Minnesota health officials unveiled more about
  • , from data reporter Greta Kaul.
  • The Minnesota Historical Society is recording the history of the pandemic as we live it. Kaul on how they’re doing it, and how you can help.
  • The $2.2 trillion federal stimulus package cut a $1,200 check for every adult and $500 per child. But it turns out not every dependent child is getting federal cash, reports Washington correspondent Gabe Schneider.
  • What exactly does recovery from coronavirus look like, and what does it mean? An Indiana professor on the science behind the vexing questions.
  • Asking yourself how long it’s been since this all started? Us too. 
  • As always, a look at the numbers on the MinnPost COVID-19 dashboard.

Around the web

  • A conspiracy theory linking 5G technology to the COVID-19 outbreak is gaining momentum. The theory is getting a boost from celebrities, but also what some researchers say is a coordinated disinformation campaign, according to Bloomberg News.
  • COVID-19 is killing an outsized number of black Americans in Chicago and Milwaukee. And Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Alabama, South Carolina and practically everywhere else. Buzzfeed News compiles startling national numbers.
  • The Post and Courier in Charleston reports on how a small city in South Carolina became the state’s coronavirus epicenter.
  • The Mayo Clinic announced sweeping pay cuts and furloughs because of the halt on elective surgeries and procedures, reports MPR.

For more information, visit MDH’s coronavirus website

MDH’s coronavirus hotline, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.: 651-201-3920