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Daily COVID-19 briefing: Updated numbers, end of remdesivir donation program and new LTC visitor guidelines

Daily COVID-19 briefing: Updated numbers, end of remdesivir donation program and new LTC visitor guidelines Photo: KSTP-TV.

Charlie Wiese
Updated: July 10, 2020 04:07 PM
Created: July 10, 2020 03:44 PM

Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) officials addressed an array of topics during Friday's COVID-19 daily briefing, including an update on state and national coronavirus numbers, an end to the free remdesivir program and new long-term care facility visitor guidelines.

Numbers update:

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Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm gave an update on COVID-19 numbers around the world as well in Minnesota. Worldwide, the number of total COVID-19 cases has surpassed 12 million with just over 550,000 deaths.

In the United States, we have passed 3 million total cases and 130,000 deaths.

Minnesota added 609 more confirmed cases, which brings the state's total since the pandemic began to 40,767. The 609 new cases is the largest single-day case total since early June, however, with nearly 20,000 tests completed it was also the highest test output to date. Additionally, five more deaths were reported due to COVID-19 bringing the state's total to 1,495. A total of 1,166 of the deaths have occurred in long-term care or assisted living facilities.

Remdesivir donation program ends:

Malcolm gave her thanks to the federal government and the company, Gilead, for their donation program of the drug remdesivir, which has been used to help treat severe cases of COVID-19. The donation program has, however, now ended, according to Malcolm.

The new program in place will be semi-commercial, meaning that the federal government and MDH will allocate the drug to hospitals, however, hospitals would then have to pay for it. Hospitals can refuse their allocated amount of the drug if need be.

New LTC guidance:

Commissioner Malcolm announced Friday that certain family members will be able to be designated as essential caregivers to residents in long-term care facilities.

State Ombudsman for Long-Term Care Cheryl Hennen noted that people are suffering and dying from loneliness due to COVID-19 in long-term care facilities. Many families are seeing their loved ones deteriorating and facility staff members have been asking for help in this realm.

The new caregiver guidance that will allow certain family members who were caring for their loved ones in long-term care before COVID-19 to be in closer personal contact is a significant help, Hennen said. Designated caregivers will need to wear personal protective equipment, frequently wash their hands and follow MDH guidelines among other requirements for the position.

Other notes: 

  • MDH Director of Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Prevention and Control Kris Ehresmann said that the department is hearing that some individuals are seeking out COVID testing every few days. Ehresmann urged that this is not recommended and is not a substitute for masking or social distancing.
  • Ehresmann also went off-topic to warn about the "Brain-eating amoeba" called Naegleria Fowleri. While infections are rare, one was recently reported in Florida. Naegleria Fowleri is more common when temperatures are consistently high as they have been in Minnesota in recent weeks. Ehresmann reminded swimmers to keep their head out of the water, or if they do dip their heads to keep their nose closed.
  • The average age of COVID-19 cases in Minnesota continues to decline as younger people contract the disease, according to Malcolm. The average age for a COVID-19 case in Minnesota now stands at 38.1 years. The median age of cases has dropped four years in under two months.


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