Today is a big day for updates, so let’s get right to it.
SHOUT-OUTS, #BusinessDoingGood In addition to partnering with MNIT and the Minnesota Safety Council on a new MN Symptom Screener (see details below), Target is making a number of no-touch infrared forehead thermometers available to Minnesota businesses at cost. While temperature checks are not required as part of health screenings, it is a highly recommend practice and we are especially grateful to the team at Target for stepping up to help other businesses in Minnesota protect the health and safety of their workers. Businesses that are interested in purchasing an infrared thermometer can get started here.
Governor Walz will announce next steps in the Stay At Home Order during Thursday’s 2pm media briefing.
Need to Know on Round Two of PPP - From TWIN CITIES BUSINESS: Minnesota issued 46,383 PPP loans totaling a value of over $9 billion in the first round, but even with additional funds on the way, bankers said that this is a short-term solution. Unfortunately, even with the large amount of banks and dollars in Minnesota, not everyone's applications will be approved once they do go through, noted David Reiling, CEO of Sunrise Banks. "Not everyone who applies will get the funds. At the dollar amounts Congress is funding, it will take several more rounds of funding to get to most of America's small businesses. I think it's important to reiterate how novel this stimulus program is in terms of its size and loan forgiveness," he said via email.
What are criteria that will go into the Governor’s decision this week? According to Commissioner of Health Jan Malcolm: the goal is to re-open sectors of the economy in sectors where we think social distancing and other measures can make it safe for people. There are trade-offs and risks with every decision and we are weighing all of these. We know there is increased risk by re-opening things, but we are also increasingly concerned with health issues exacerbated by this crisis – people aren’t going in to see the doctor to get care they need for non-COVID illness because they are afraid. We need to address this.
Tuesday’s media briefing focused on the state’s COVID-19 testing efforts. Questions from the press focused on issues regarding long term care facilities. Also, Kris Ehresmann, MDH Infectious Disease Director, offered a warning to Minnesotans: with the increase in number of tests completed daily, the state will see a large increase in positive cases.
Jan Malcolm, Commissioner of Health, on Tuesday
We have been reporting increasing numbers of positive cases every day, so heading up the curve. Our model is being peer-reviewed right now – this will be version 3. Peak still appears to be mid-June to early July. Today we are reporting the largest single day of cases yet. We have a larger proportion of deaths in long term care facilities than do other states. We think it is because we have been so focused with tight criteria for testing in places where we know people are particularly vulnerable.
Also dealing with supply chain management experts to help us find more PPE. Spending a lot of time trying to figure out how to support facilities with surge staffing, especially nurses.
The goal is to build the capacity to do 20,000 tests a day within the next couple of weeks. Also, as we have more hotspots, like we have seen in the food processing sector, we need to also have the ability to deploy tests to those locations.
Long-term care facilities have been a priority from the beginning. We have had the CDC team with us here in Minnesota for two weeks now, and they have been helping us assess long-term care facilities. There are staffing shortages for a number of different reasons, including the fact that it is an extremely stressful environment to work in. We are looking at how some facilities have been successful in preventing the spread, and we are trying to learn from those successes and want share that information. Another problem with these facilities is that we cannot put a bubble around them, even though we would like to. Workers have to go in and out. Some residents have to go for procedures, like dialysis. It is very important to recognize that this is not a simple thing, we cannot just do one round of testing and then we are done. We are going to have to be constantly on guard for a very long time.
Thom Peterson, Commissioner of Agriculture, on Tuesday - our food producing plants are struggling, there simply isn’t enough space to keep all the animals on hand over time. Demand from the restaurant industry and food service is way down. We are working to get the plants back online as fast as we can, but it also needs to be a safe environment for the workers. The food supply continues to be an issue. With losing so much pork capacity and now starting in turkey sector, we might see disruptions at the store for these products as well as eggs.
Daniel Huff, MDH Assistant Commissioner, Health Protection Bureau, on Tuesday – a week ago, the state was completing fewer than 1,000 tests a day; on Monday, more than 2,000 tests were completed. The state also has created an integrated testing system with every healthcare provider in the state. This means if one provider is low on tests, their patients can get a test from a different provider. New testing sites are going online all the time. MDH also is looking at how to best target priority populations: long term care, prisons and jails, homeless shelters. MDH is also looking at how to best target priority populations: long-term care, prisons and jails, homeless shelters. Also looking at testing workers in critical infrastructure – not just healthcare workers – but also utility workers, grocery workers, childcare workers and others.
Dr. Ruth Lynfield, State Epidemiologist and Medical Director – serology tests are used to measure antibodies, which show a person’s exposure to something. With the current level of knowledge the world has now about the virus, the serology tests can be used for two important purposes. One purpose is to measure the number of people potentially exposed to the virus. Learning how widespread it is can inform future decisions. Second, current studies are trying to determine if the blood from people who have recovered from COVID-19 can be used to help those who are still fighting the virus. That process is called convalescent plasma donation. What the serology test cannot be used for at this time, is as a guarantee that a person cannot be infected again. There has not been enough research done yet to support that conclusion.
Steve Grove, DEED, 4/29
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) has started making payments to self-employed Minnesotans. Remember, if you’ve already applied for unemployment (even if you’ve been denied), you don’t need to do anything to qualify for PUA. DEED will automatically establish a PUA benefit account for you if you are eligible.
If you have not applied for unemployment benefits yet, DEED has special instructions for self-employed 1099 workers available to download here. These instructions will help self-employed workers make your accounts as easily identifiable as possible for PUA.
Working hard on the next phase of re-opening while also keeping people safe. We are looking at the settings most conducive to safe openings. We also are looking at at-risk populations and how all the Governor’s decisions affect them, and looking at impact issues of race, economics, and zip code. For those businesses that are going to open up, we really want to do so with extensive consultation with you all in the business community. We are looking at 3 factors as he's approaching this – public health risk, social distancing abilities, and economic factors.
From PIONEER PRESS: U.S. economy shrank 4.8% last quarter, with worst yet to come.
Target is making a number of no-touch infrared forehead thermometers available to Minnesota businesses and nonprofits at cost. While temperature checks are not required as part of health screenings, it is a highly recommended practice and we are especially grateful to the team at Target for stepping up to help other businesses in Minnesota protect the health and safety of their workers. Businesses that are interested in purchasing an infrared thermometer can get started here. This can be used in tandem with the MN Symptom Screener referenced above. A few important things to know about MN Symptom Screener:
Businesses and organizations need to register online to be able to use the tool. Designate a Gmail (Google Email) account for using the tool and get started at minnesotasafetycouncil.org.
MN Symptom Screener is not meant to be used by individuals to assess their own health.
The MN Symptom Screener focuses on protecting privacy. Each business or organization owns its own data, and they are not required to share it with the state of Minnesota or with anyone else.
All individual data is anonymous – the tool is not set up for anyone to be able to track an individual employee, visitor, or customer’s health data.
Use of the MN Symptom Screener and any corresponding temperature checks are voluntary, however, we know temperature and various symptoms are key pieces of health information we can use to help slow the spread of COVID-19.
COVID-19 update Confirmed cases in Minnesota: from 3,816 to 4,644 Confirmed cases in U.S. (as of 4/28): over 869,000 Confirmed cases globally (as of 4/28): over 3M Cases requiring hospitalization: from 861 to 950 #s currently hospitalized: from 292 to 320 #s no longer needing to be isolated: from 1,842 to 2,043 #s tested: from 61,268 to 66,744 Total deaths in Minnesota: from 286 to 319 Total deaths in U.S. (updated 4/28): almost 50,000 Total deaths globally (updated 4/28): over 211,500 Counties represented: Hennepin County: from 1,416 to 1,633 Ramsey County: from 297 to 322 Dakota County: from 144 to 157 Washington County: from 114 to 120
The interactive Minnesota COVID-19 Public Dashboard can be found here.
U.S. Chamber information regarding the federal government’s response to the ongoing pandemic. Among these resources, you will find the following: