COVID-19 Briefing: Minnesota health leaders discuss backlog of tests, advice for students returning to college

On Wednesday, Minnesota health leaders discussed many topics ranging from the recent spike in COVID-19 deaths, case growth compared to test growth and advice for students returning to schools in the fall.

Earlier Wednesday, the Minnesota Department of Health noted 17 coronavirus-related deaths in the most recent report. That is the highest number in two months. Nine of the deaths happened in long-term care facilities.

MDH Commissioner Jan Malcolm said a backlog of 25,000 tests were just added, making the number of tests look higher than usual. According to Malcolm, a majority of the tests were negative.

MDH reports 17 deaths from COVID-1, highest daily total since June

Along with the MDH Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Prevention and Control Division Director Kris Ehresmann and Dr. Ruth Lynfield, Malcolm also discussed college students returning to schools and how they can do their part in preventing the spread of COVID-19. They said students should stay home and avoid bars and house parties for at least two weeks before returning to their respective universities.

Some universities have already scaled back their in-person learning due to spikes in COVID-19 positivity rates. One example is the University of North Carolina, where the positivity rate during the week of Aug. 10 to Aug. 16 rose from 2.8% to 13.6% on campus. Other schools seeing similar occurrences include the University of Notre Dame and Michigan State University. State health officials say those who continue to ignore rules are only prolonging the outbreak.

Studies are also ongoing in learning the long-term effects of contracting the virus. Some have reported symptoms weeks to months after their initial diagnosis.

Other things you should know from the call on Wednesday:

  • MDH has heard some reports of kids not getting tested due to a claim that numbers are skewed. Health officials urged those who have symptoms to please get tested and stay home.
  • Regarding the recent spike in deaths, Malcolm said time will tell if "blips" in data could contribute to that, in connection with the recent backlog for MDH.
  • It is not recommended for college or K-12 students to get tested if they are not showing symptoms before school resumes.