Coronavirus Daily Briefing: Health officials reinforce importance of following health guidelines as restrictions eased

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Minnesota health officials on Monday provided the latest COVID-19 update for the state and reinforced the importance of following health guidelines and taking proper precautions even as more restrictions are eased.

Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) Commissioner Jan Malcolm and Infectious Disease Division Director Kris Ehresmann said social distancing, wearing a face mask and avoiding large groups of people is just as important now, if not more, despite the fact that more businesses were allowed to reopen Monday and the ‘stay at home’ order is now lifted, because the virus is still uncontained.

It also doesn’t make it okay for people who are symptomatic to go out or disregard social distancing.

Malcolm again urged everyone with COVID-19 symptoms to get tested. She said in some cases it can take a few days to get results but noted it’s imperative that people self-isolate and stay home until they get their test results and, of course, longer if the test comes back positive. You can find testing locations here.

Malcolm said it’s important people recognize that "lower risk does not equal no risk" and that it’s extremely important for people to keep following the health guidelines the state has been following throughout the pandemic.

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Ehresmann noted that it’s important to understand it’s not just people with respiratory issues or the elderly who are at a higher risk for getting COVID-19. She said there are other conditions that affect a lot of people, such as obesity or diabetes, that also have to be considered as putting people at an increased risk for getting seroius symptoms from COVID-19. She added that most people look healthy but many have underlying conditions.

"There’s a large portion of the population that falls into the at-risk category," said Ehresmann, noting why it’s so important for people to continue following health guidelines and stay home if you feel sick.

As for people who choose to ignore health recommendations, Malcolm called it concerning.

"That is a concern that people don’t see the need for it or, for some reason, don’t think it applies to them or think, as Kris said, ‘Well, as long as I’m 6 feet apart the mask isn’t important,’ and some of that we need to do a better job of educating and I think as more data comes out, hopefully, people will find that persuasive … this comes from actual evidence," Malcolm said.

Below are some other takeaways from Monday’s update:

  • Ehresmann noted it could take up to 21 days for health officials to start seeing a severe uptick in cases because of more places opening and people not following health guidelines.
  • Malcolm said the case doubling rate in Minnesota is up to 12 days, which is longer than it has been. Last Monday it was at nine days.
  • Malcolm said they’re making "pretty good progress" in increasing testing at long-term care facilities but they continue to work on that.
  • MDH continues to build up staffing and training for contact tracing and said they had 400 people on the staff as of Friday. MDH’s goal is to have about 1,400 case investigators and contact tracers by June 1. Malcolm noted that contact tracing is key as more and more of society gets reopened.
  • MDH says there aren’t any confirmed cases of pediatric multi-system inflammatory syndrome in the state but providers are aware of the syndrome and are watching for it.

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