Coronavirus Daily Briefing: Mask donations still needed, modeling data discussed

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State health officials on Friday provided the latest update on the COVID-19 response in Minnesota, noting that mask donations are still needed and offering more insight into the modeling data they look at to help make decisions regarding the coronavirus.

Gov. Tim Walz was not part of Friday’s call, but Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm and Kris Ehresmann, the head of infectious disease at MDH, offered the latest information on the state’s COVID-19 response.

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They again asked people who are willing and able to make cloth masks to consider doing so and donating them to community organizations, such as a nursing home, child care facility or other congregate areas. However, anyone wishing to make a donation is urged to call ahead before dropping the donation off.

Malcolm and Ehresmann said the masks can be helpful in protecting people but reminded the public that medical-grade equipment needs to be preserved for employees involved in direct patient care.

MDH: COVID-19 deaths total 57 in Minnesota, 1,336 positive cases

Earlier Friday, MDH said the state’s COVID-19-related death toll rose to 57, while overall positive cases moved to 1,336. Ehresmann noted that 36 of the 57 deaths were individuals in congregate care settings and said 82 congregate care facilities have reported at least one case or exposure as of Friday.

Officials also explained models regarding the virus’ effect on Minnesota earlier Friday. Several questions relating to that were discussed in the afternoon briefing.

VIDEO: Minnesota health officials explain models of COVID-19’s effect on state

Malcolm said the model is a valuable tool in helping people understand the relative impacts of different layers of the epidemic but cautioned that it’s just one model and that state leaders look at a lot of epidemiological data also before making decisions.

Malcolm also briefly touched on getting people back to work and the financial strain put on the healthcare industry.

She noted that Walz and state leaders continue to work to find ways to get more people back to work while not compromising anyone’s health. Malcolm also said a work group is looking at ways to do that with several agencies, led by the Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) and the Department of Labor, and MDH is providing advice on minimizing direct and close contact.

Malcolm said Walz is also looking at many concerns regarding the health care industry and is discussing further economic assistance for health care to offer more financial stability relating to core operations, not just COVID-19 response.

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