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The daily coronavirus update: state names long-term care facilities with coronavirus cases

Two more Minnesotans have died from COVID-19 and another 76 people have tested positive for the disease, state health officials said Saturday.

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 4, 2020:

865 confirmed cases; 24 deaths 

Two more Minnesotans have died from COVID-19 and another 76 people have tested positive for the disease, state health officials said Saturday. Now 24 people have died and 865 have tested positive for the illness caused by coronavirus, though due to a lack of testing capacity far more Minnesotans are assumed to have the disease. 

The people who died were a 100-year-old from Winona County who had been in long-term care, and an 89-year-old from Martin County. There are 95 people in the hospital because of COVID-19, with 42 of those patients in intensive care. On Friday, 86 people had been hospitalized and 40 were in intensive care.

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The 76 new cases announced Saturday represent the largest single-day spike in confirmed cases so far in Minnesota. While the disease is spreading around Minnesota, the jump can be attributed, at least in part, to more than a worsening pandemic, said Kris Ehresmann, the infectious disease director for the Minnesota Department of Health. 

Infectious Disease Director Kris Ehresmann
MinnPost photo by Peter Callaghan
Infectious Disease Director Kris Ehresmann
Ehresmann said commercial labs are working through backlogs, one reason for the increase. The state has also worked to make its testing “more targeted,” which will lead to a higher share of positives among administered tests, she said, contributing to the rise in cases. More than 25,400 people have now been tested for the disease by way of the state’s Public Health Laboratory and other labs around the state. 

The median age of Minnesotans killed by COVID-19 is 86 years, though the age range is 58 through 100 years. The median age of patients requiring intensive care is 67 years, though the age range of those patients is 25 to 95 years old. There are also 440 people who no longer need to be isolated because they have recovered from the coronavirus. 

State releases breakdown of COVID-19 by race

For the first time, state health officials released data on the race of people who have contracted COVID-19. The breakdown as reported by the state is:

  • White: 74 percent
  • Black: 6 percent 
  • Asian: 4 percent
  • American Indian / Alaska Native: 1 percent
  • Other: 3 percent 
  • Unknown / missing: 4 percent

Those numbers appear roughly in line with the state’s demographics, though the COVID-19 data could be influenced by availability and accessibility of testing. The Minnesota State Demographic Center says non-Hispanic white people make up 80 percent of the statewide population while people of color make up 20 percent of the population.

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Ehresmann said a lot of testing has been done in southern Minnesota because of the Mayo Clinic, meaning some state data could be skewed to demographics near the Rochester hospital. “We’re working to get testing to other parts of the state including our tribal nations, and so I think we should start to see some changes in those demographics,” Ehresmann said.

Long-term care facilities with COVID-19 cases named

State officials also released the names of 32 long-term care facilities with one or more known cases of COVID-19 among staff or residents, though they have not disclosed the names of 15 smaller facilities with one or more cases. The state says it is withholding the names of homes with COVID-19 cases if they have fewer than 10 residents in an effort to protect privacy.

There are 11 long-term care facilities listed from Hennepin County, including Shalom Home West, Heritage of Edina, Sunrise of Edina, Vernon Terrace, Walker Methodist Health Center and The Waters of Edina. 

Four on the state list are located in Ramsey County: Cherrywood Pointe of Roseville, Presbyterian Homes of Arden Hills, The Estates at Roseville and The Waters of White Bear Lake.

The full list can be found on the state’s website.

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Ehresmann said 31 of the long-term care facilities have a single case found in either a resident, staffer, or contractor. Seven have two cases and nine have more than two cases. Nine facilities have seen deaths from COVID-19.

Because people in assisted living are more vulnerable to the disease, the state wants to prevent spread within them as much as possible. Ehresmann said when a positive case is found, the facility is assigned a case manager to check in frequently, while an infection-control expert assesses the facility and guides them on best practices, including isolation and pairing sick residents together rather than having an ill person room with a healthy one.

Ehresmann said many of the homes are having challenges finding staff and personal protective equipment, too. “It’s a really challenging situation that we’re working with these facilities on,” she said.

Do neighboring states put Minnesota at risk?

While Minnesota and Wisconsin have stay-at-home orders, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota and Nebraska do not. Ehresmann said if people from neighboring states are traveling into Minnesota it could have an impact, though she said if Minnesotans are staying home and following the governor’s orders, it won’t matter as much.

“But certainly it’s better for all of us if we’re all taking all of the necessary community mitigation strategies seriously,” she said. “Particularly for those border locations that could make a difference.”

Gov. Tim Walz has talked with officials in North Dakota, Iowa and South Dakota and said he’s worried they’re not taking the same actions Minnesota has. 

Today on MinnPost

Around the Web

  • BuzzFeed News on what we know about asymptomatic (and presymptomatic) “silent carriers” of COVID-19.
  • Bronx residents are twice as likely to die from COVID-19 in New York City, reports The City. While the number of confirmed infections in the borough is similar to other parts of New York, deaths are double.
  • The Trump administration has touted the ventilator supply in New Orleans, a city hit hard by COVID-19. But The Advocate reports Louisiana models predict the need for ventilators will overwhelm supply by Wednesday.
  • Fifteen years ago, Florida officials wrote reports predicting a crisis remarkably similar to the pandemic now racing through the state, and bolstered state health departments to combat a potential outbreak. But that operation was dismantled to save money, The Tampa Bay Times found.
  • In Italy, going back to work may depend on having the right antibodies, an idea that might once have been relegated to science fiction films and dystopian novels, reports the New York Times.
  • The Journal, a Wall Street Journal Podcast, reports on two venture capitalists from San Francisco who have become improbable middlemen for enormous shipments of protective supplies to states across the U.S. (The two are not taking a profit.)

For more information, visit MDH’s coronavirus website

Or call its COVID-19 health questions hotline, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.: 651-201-3920