Fact Sheet MDH COVID-19: What the latest data shows, an update on the economic aid package

Full COVID-19 coverage of the KSTP

Malcolm called on the Minotanans to work hard to combat the spread by adhering to health guidelines, adding that this is important for rural minineshotans as well, not just for those living in twin towns.

More than a third of the counties already have more than 100 weekly cases per 10,000 people, he said. Contextually, MDH sees things over 10 cases per 10,000 people as high growth rates. Malcolm added that in most counties, community spread is ten times greater than it should be.

“This virus is found in every county, in every corner of our state,” Malcolm said, noting that the growth rate of cases in Greater Minnesota is actually higher than in twin cities.

Referring to several diagrams of MDH, Malcolm remarked:

  • The seven-day rolling average positivity rate has tripled since the middle of last month.
  • In early November, COVID-19 patients accounted for 18% of ICU beds and 9% of non-ICU beds in hospitals. As of Monday, they accounted for 35% of ICU beds and 25% of non-ICU beds.
  • As of Monday, 1,840 patients are staying in hospitals in Minnesota with COVID-19 and 392 patients in the intensive care unit.
  • Minnesota now has more cases per population than New York, Texas, Florida, and many other states that used to be hotspots.

“It’s the worst place we’ve been since March; that’s what the data says,” Malcolm said.

Walz said it was important to highlight the latest data, adding: “The data does not provide answers, but provides information to the questions.” Malcolm also considered it important to place everything in the context of longer-term trends, adding that the virus is still very new in Minnesota, just 9 months old.

He noted that MDH will try to provide as much data as possible, but it will take a few weeks to get a full picture of what is happening at a given moment. With this in mind, the data continue to suggest that the state is on a dangerous path.

Malcolm also said the virus has a slightly wave pattern where declines and short, well-numbered periods are followed by rises and peaks. This is likely to continue to move forward.

The biggest thing that can sometimes be lost in the data is its impact. The growing number of hospital treatments continues to put hospitals and healthcare workers in a difficult position. Malcolm says many are close to capacity, and hospitals as well as long-term care facilities are also struggling to keep up with staff because many employees become infected, not because of the spread of patients or residents, but because of the spread of the community.

Specifically about long-term care options, Malcolm presented a chart comparing the new COVID-19 cases in Minnesota with new cases in long-term care facilities. While cases in the state have skyrocketed, cases in long-term care institutions have remained stable in recent weeks, when they have begun to decline. Malcolm noted that these cases are particularly due to the vulnerable population of long-term care facilities.

While the data suggest the state is in a grim situation, Malcolm noted that there is light at the end of the tunnel and we have a vaccine we can expect for next year. However, it is important to reiterate our efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19 to ensure that as many people as possible can reach the time when a vaccine is finally available.

Move forward

Walz said he will be briefing federal officials next week on the distribution of the vaccines.

He welcomed federal efforts to distribute vaccines and said he thought it would produce good results when a vaccine was finally introduced.

In this regard, Walz said he had heard that the first distribution of Pfizer’s vaccine could take place in the second week of December. However, he said Minnesotanians need to recognize that March and April are still expected to introduce more vaccines.

Walz said there is still a debate among federal health officials about who will receive the first dose of the vaccine, which is originally expected to be in short supply.

According to him, some officials believe that health care workers should receive the first doses, while some believe that people aged 65 and older should. Malcolm says there will likely be a combination and customization of the plan in Minnesota.

Minnesota’s relief

Last week, Walz spoke about getting economic aid for Minnesota and presented his proposal on how to do that.

Walz said lawmakers had substantive talks over the weekend on Monday and are beginning to make some progress on an economic aid package, but no agreement has yet been reached. Walz said earlier that he would convene a separate agreement to accept this aid package as soon as they agreed.

He noted that the new budget forecast figures will be released on Tuesday and are likely to help lawmakers finalize some of the decisions in the aid package.

Malcolm and Walz thanked the Minnesotanians who followed the guidance over the Thanksgiving weekend and avoided larger-than-usual gatherings. For those who had a gathering, Malcolm encouraged these people to test and check for symptoms of COVID-19 five to seven days after the gathering.

As for Christmas, Walz said he can hardly believe things will change so much over the next four weeks that Minnesans can gather safely, but he says MDH will continue to re-evaluate and follow the data.

15 new COVID-19 deaths, 5,801 new cases reported by MDH