MDH COVID-19 briefing: State health officials discuss community spread concerns

Ben Rodgers
Updated: October 29, 2020 06:16 PM
Created: October 29, 2020 03:41 PM

During the state’s regular COVID-19 briefing Thursday, state health officials discussed concerns about rising cases and community spread.

Earlier in the day, the Minnesota Department of Health reported a record-high number of daily cases at 2,872 on a testing volume of around 27,000 tests.

The total number of patients in the hospital for COVID-19 was also at 685, with 168 in intensive care. MDH Commissioner Jan Malcolm referred to the hospitalization numbers as a "high water mark."

Record-high 2,872 new COVID-19 cases, 32 new deaths reported by MDH

When speaking about the record number reported, Malcolm said, "The way things are going, I’m sorry to say that I don’t think that record is going to hold for very long."

She added that Tuesday marks the fourth time this month that new daily COVID-19 cases have been above 2,000. Malcolm said this is "becoming a norm" and Minnesotans need to "brace for what could come."

The high number of cases that are being reported, Malcolm said, are not just due to large events and gatherings. Rather, they’re due to "thousands of seemingly small decisions people are making every day."

MDH Infectious Disease Director Kris Ehresmann said that Minnesota is beginning to reach the explosive growth in cases that is being seen in neighboring states.

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Ehresmann spoke again about the stress community spread can put on workers in health care and long-term care settings.

Ehresmann said there were 186 new cases reported in long-term care facilities along Tuesday.

"This shows that even with the good work that’s taken place, even with the floodwalls we’ve built up, if the water rises high enough, we’ll have big problems," she said.

In regards to health care workers, Ehresmann said data shows in September there were 139,000 health care workers who fell into a high-risk exposure category, which was up from 1,928 at the beginning of the pandemic.

She added that health care workers that are needing to quarantine aren't doing so because of exposure at work, but instead, exposures in the community.

"One takeaway for the rest of us is that we need to do what we can to protect our health care workers and our long-term care workers from getting COVID from us when they are out in the community," Ehresmann said. "More COVID-19 in our communities means greater risk to our health care personnel because there are more opportunities for them to be exposed. And while we are all mindful of the supply of hospital beds, all the beds in the world are worthless without skilled, experienced health care workers to staff them and provide care."


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