COVID-19 Briefing: Infectious diseases expert says all Minnesotans 'directly involved' in fight against virus as case rate increases

COVID-19 Briefing: Infectious diseases expert says all Minnesotans 'directly involved' in fight against virus as case rate increases Photo: KSTP-TV.

Rebecca Omastiak
Updated: July 29, 2020 03:48 PM
Created: July 29, 2020 03:36 PM

Wednesday, Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) Infectious Diseases Director Kris Ehresmann addressed a recent increase in positive COVID-19 cases, concerns about hospitalization data, and multisystem inflammatory syndrome in Minnesota children.

Here’s what was discussed:

Situation in Minnesota

Wednesday, MDH reported 681 new cases that have tested positive for COVID-19 and nine additional deaths.

Currently, there are a total of 52,947 positive cases and 1,589 deaths in Minnesota due to COVID-19.

MDH reports 1,216 of the total deaths have occurred in long-term care or assisted living facilities.

MDH: 681 new COVID-19 cases, 9 additional deaths

Ehresmann said recent data shows the weekly average of positive cases is increasing.

When looking at the seven-day rolling average, Ehresmann said the state’s current testing positivity rate is 4.9%, which is up from 4.7% a week ago. Ehresmann also said there is a 10.4%  increase in new cases.

The state saw a low growth rate in testing itself during this past week, at about 11.8%, according to Ehresmann. In terms of how quickly the state is returning test results, Ehresmann said it does make some difference where a test is processed. If tests are sent to reference labs nationally, for example, that can take longer to return results.

An increase in cases

Ehresmann said, due to the data collection’s lag factor, the state is seeing information about the spread of COVID-19 that is about two weeks, or more, in the past.

"As we're talking about these cases we recognize that these cases are historical, even as we’re reporting them to you," Ehresmann said.

That’s why, Ehresmann said, state health leaders continue to call on Minnesotans to do their part to slow the spread.

"We are worried that if we don’t take the right steps to limit spread, we end up like those states who didn't see the COVID train before it ran them over," Ehresmann said.

In addition to increasing cases, Ehresmann said the state is seeing more people hospitalized due to COVID-19 and that the cases requiring care in intensive care units are of particular concern.

"As we have feared, we are seeing hospitalizations begin to increase and I don't think it is a blip," Ehresmann said.

As a result of increased cases, especially at long-term care centers and ones that require hospitalization, Ehresmann asked Minnesotans to "consider the many roles that you have in your life."

“Minnesota’s public health system, health care providers, long-term care sector and others are working very hard to prevent COVID from spreading, but we cannot do this on our own,” Ehresmann said. “The ultimate success or failure of this COVID fight is largely in the hands of each and every individual Minnesotan … we’re all directly involved and have choices to make.”

KSTP's complete COVID-19 coverage

Status of multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children cases

During Wednesday’s conference call, Ehresmann provided an update on multisystem inflammatory syndrome in Minnesota children.

Multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children, or MIS-C, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is a condition in which “different body parts can become inflamed, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes, or gastrointestinal organs” and often occurs in children who have had COVID-19 or have been around someone with COVID-19.

Ehresmann said the current majority of MIS-C cases are occurring in Black or Hispanic children in Minnesota.

All current children with MIS-C are males and all cases, except for two, have tested positive for COVID-19. Others had links to COVID-19 cases, Ehresmann said.

Continued conversations about COVID-19 and the upcoming school year

Ehresmann said Gov. Tim Walz is expected to discuss education decisions in more depth Thursday, but said state health leaders view the current rise in cases as concerning because it could apply to the upcoming school year and in-person learning.

As a result, state health leaders would like to see an education scenario in which multiple options are available, Ehresmann said.

In terms of what’s known about the spread of COVID-19 among school-aged children, Ehresmann said current testing is skewing toward younger age groups, including the 6- to 19-year-old age range.

As for the severity of the virus in those age groups, Ehresmann said health officials are not currently seeing severe cases.

Meanwhile, in terms of day care and child care centers, Ehresmann said the state is continuing to see most cases coming in from staff members.

Listen to the full news conference via the video player below:

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