ROCHESTER, Minn. — Seemingly chagrined by the news that Minnesotans can no longer enter New York, New Jersey or Connecticut without signing papers stating they will quarantine for 14 days, state health officials on Wednesday, July 15 used a scheduled press call to shake up the complacency in the community over the spread of COVID-19 in the state.
Commissioner of Health Jan Malcolm began the hour with a stark reminder than at 3.4 million cases and 136,000 deaths, the United States has become an example for failure to prevent the spread of the illness.
"Just to put this in a little bit of context," Malcolm said of the nation's case and death totals, "what this means in the United States, which has about 4.5% of the world's population, accounts for fully 25% of global COVID-19 cases, and 23% of all COVID-19 deaths."
From there it was on to Make-A-Plan Minnesota, an initiative to encourage adults to consider the possibility that they may quickly and without warning become incapacitated with the illness and unable to care for their children.
The campaign says all parents should have plans in place for others to easily step in to fill their parental role.
"There have been instances around the country and here in Minnesota where parents have become too ill with COVID-19 to care for their children for short periods of time," state Director of Infectious Disease Kris Ehresmann said.
With a stoic pessimism about health predictability that would not be out of place in the works of Charles Dickens, the program encourages parents to take down their child's medical and educational needs, preferred routines and comfort times, "to make any needed transition easier for parents, replacement caregivers and children."
Ehresmann credited the New York caution against Minnesota travelers to the "growing concern about an uptick of cases of COVID-19 in Minnesota, including 1,500 just this last weekend, adding that "yesterday we saw a reminder that other states are noticing our new cases as well."
Though New York consulted a CDC COVID tracker which records the day cases are reported, as opposed to collected, a method accentuating recent cases the most, "the bottom line," Ehresmann said, "is that we are seeing an increase in COVID-19 cases."
State epidemiologist Dr. Ruth Lynfield appealed directly to the public to take matters in their own hands to stop the spread of COVID-19 in the state.
"We are in fact at a worrisome point in that the numbers are going up," Lynfield said. "There are 41 states that are having an increase in cases. This really is a moment for all of us to take a step back and think of what we can do to slow transmission and slow the course of this virus. Where we go from here as a state is less about what the small number of public health workers and health care providers can do. It's about what each of us as Minnesotans decide to do every day."
"We are on the quarantine list," Lynfield said. "There are other states and other countries that are doing better than us. That should be an inspiration to us to try to work harder."
Later in the hour, Ehresmann provided the most current death rates from the illness by age in the state.
There have been 0 deaths in Minnesotans under 20. Those in their 20s currently face a .02% death rate, for those in their 30s it is .13%, for those in their 40s it is .31 %, and for those in their 50s the death rate finally passes one percentage point at 1.36%.
Minnesotans with COVID-19 in their 60s have experienced a 5.47% death rate, however, a number that triples for those in their 70s (15.26% death rate), and that percentage doubles again for people in their 80s.
The death rate among people with COVID-19 in the 90s in the state is 44.48%, and that jumps by another 10 percentage points to 58% for people over 100.
"You can see that the rate increase with age," said Ehresmann. "But there are consequences for individuals who are younger in terms of long term negative health sequelae, as well as the fact that cases in those age groups can spread to the community."
The Minnesota Department of Health reported another 578 cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, July 15.
The report continues a streak of daily new case totals at or over the 500 mark, and raises the statewide laboratory-confirmed case total to 43,742.
Spikes reemerged in suburban counties including Carver (10 cases), Scott (27 cases) and Dakota (65 cases). Rural Minnesota saw spikes in Stearns (25 cases) and Blue Earth (27 cases) counties.
The health department also reported another eight deaths linked to the virus.
One death each was reported in Anoka, Dakota, Grant, Nicollet, Pipestone and Ramsey counties, and two in Hennepin County. The ages of the deceased spanned every decade of age for those over 40 on to over 100. Five of the eight deaths were residents of long-term care facilities.
The number of Minnesotans who have died from COVID-19 is now 1,518.
The state reported another 12,452 tests on Wednesday. More than 790,000 tests have now been conducted. At the current rate the state is poised have conducted over one million tests by the start of August.
The number of Minnesotans hospitalized with COVID-19 is now 254, 106 of whom are in the ICU.
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Minnesota Department of Health COVID-19 hotline: 651-201-3920.
COVID-19 discrimination hotline: 833-454-0148
Minnesota Department of Health COVID-19 website: Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) website.