Posted at 10:15 a.m. Updated at 11:07 a.m.
This article will be updated as more information becomes available.
The Minnesota Department of Health reports four more deaths due to COVID-19 complications, bringing the total to 22.
Over 24,000 tests have been completed and 789 people have tested positive for the virus. Over 400 patients have recovered and no longer need to be isolated.
According to today’s update, 156 total cases have required hospitalization, and 86 remain hospitalized with 40 in ICU care.
Community transmission accounts for 32 percent of likely exposure to COVID-19, 20 percent of cases were exposed to another case, 19 percent were exposed after traveling to another state, 14 percent from international travel and three percent were exposed on a cruise ship. Ten percent of cases have no known exposure data.
MDH now includes residence type for the known cases. Over 80 percent of patients are in a private residence setting, with long-term care, long term acute living and assisted living facilities combined accounting for about six percent of cases.
Gov. Tim Walz announced yesterday that Minnesota’s health insurance providers will waive cost-sharing for treatment of COVID-19.
Minnesotans with commercial insurance are now eligible for these benefits:
- No cost-sharing charges for COVID-19 testing
- Hospitalized patients will have no cost-sharing charges for in-network hospitalization
- Minnesotans will have expanded access to telemedicine services
“This move will help ensure no Minnesotan has to sacrifice paying rent or buying groceries to cover a hospital bill from COVID-19,” said Gov. Walz. “I’m grateful Minnesota’s health plans are putting the health and safety of our fellow Minnesotans first during this pandemic.”
Many Minnesotans that receive their coverage through their employer have self-insured plans. The state government does not have regulatory authority over these plans but are encouraging employers to work with their plan administrators to implement similar measures.
Gov. Walz is scheduled to give a video press conference at 1 p.m. and will join the Minnesota Department of Health daily conference call at 2 p.m.
The calls for additional personal protective equipment (PPE) continue to be heard from medical professionals and first responders. Minnesota Nurses Association president Mary Turner told a Senate COVID-19 response group, “If nurses do not have proper PPE now, they will not be around to care for the future wave of COVID-19 patients.” Gov. Walz says a state dashboard that will indicate supplies of PPE as well as other medical equipment needed in the fight against COVID-19 is expected to be released today.
Grant dollars available
The Department of Justice has announced that $12 million will be available to Minnesota public safety agencies to address the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to a release, the Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding program, authorized by the recent stimulus legislation signed by President Trump, will allow eligible state, local and tribal governments to apply immediately for these critical funds. The department is moving quickly to make awards, with the goal of having funds available for drawdown within days of the award.
For more information about the Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding program, visit the website.
The annual March FoodShare Campaign, which provides a partial match to Minnesota food shelves for donated funds and food, has been extended to April 30. Bemidji Community Food Shelf is continuing to serve the community during the current COVID-19 state of emergency.
“This is wonderful news,” said Mary Mitchell, BCFS Executive Director. “It will give us the opportunity to raise more money so we can continue to fill the food gaps in our community as needs increase.”
Mitchell said that in the past two weeks, the food shelf has served 45% more households than the average. She expects the number of households to increase as more people lose their incomes.
Volunteers and staff provided by United Way of Bemidji have been packing an average of 165 food boxes for distribution on Monday and Wednesday. Mitchell said that a decision will be made next week about increasing the number of boxes.
RED LAKE NATION
The Red Lake Nation’s medical martial law order will be in effect starting at 5 p.m. this evening, Friday, April 3. All residents of the reservation will be quarantined to their homes and yards for 15 days, with the potential that the order will be reviewed. All travel to and from the reservation will be monitored. Essential travel, such as to and from essential employment, shopping for groceries and necessary items, and to medical appointments, will be allowed. The order comes after a Red Lake member, who lives off the reservation, reportedly tested positive for COVID-19.