Situation Update for Monday, April 27

Posted at 11:06 a.m. Updated at 11:22 a.m.

This article will be updated as more information becomes available.

STATE UPDATES

The Minnesota Department of Health reports that as of Monday, March 27, there are 3,816 of total cases of COVID-19 in the state, and increase of 214 since yesterday. That represents a total 1,974 active cases with 1,842 reported to be recovered to the point they no longer need isolation.

To date, there have been 286 deaths related to the COVID-19 pandemic, an increase of 14 since yesterday. There are currently 292 hospitalized and 122 in ICU. Over 61,000 tests have been completed by MDH and external laboratories.

Gov. Tim Walz may announce by Wednesday whether he will extend the Stay at Home order past May 4th. The governor did hint that easing bar and restaurant closures is probably less likely than loosening restrictions for houses of worship and single-family gatherings. Up to 100,000 Minnesotans were able to return to work today in manufacturing, industrial and office settings that do not face customers.

CALL FOR HEALTHCARE WORKERS

From the Minnesota Nurses Association:

Due to the overwhelming response of Minnesota nurses wanting to help in long-term care and assisted-living facilities in urgent need of staffing, the State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) quickly built a survey to better compile and sort staffing data to match those willing to help with this COVID-19 response.  Even if you previously emailed, please click on the following link to take a 60 second survey to be placed on a list to fill temporary paid healthcare worker positions in your area.

The Minnesota Statewide Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) is working to assist long-term care/assisted living facilities in identifying licensed and unlicensed staff to meet imminent staffing needs related to the COVID-19 response. These are temporary shift positions paid for by the facilities.  The SEOC is compiling a list of potential temporary healthcare workers (RN, LPN, EMS, nursing assistants, etc.) to connect those on the list with long-term care/assisted living facilities in urgent need of staff.

NOTE: Travel assistance is not provided. Pay negotiated with facility.

Please complete this brief survey and a representative may contact you if there is a staffing need for your particular skill set and geographic location.

Survey link:

https://redcap.health.state.mn.us/redcap/surveys/?s=KXMNTRCKWT

OUTDOOR RECREATION GUIDELINES

The DNR and MDH have collaborated on some outdoor recreation guidelines for use during the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Practice social distancing (stay at least 6 feet from people from other households). This isn’t just for parks and trails – it is also essential at boat launches, fishing piers, and hunting lands, and anytime you leave your home.
  • Stay as close to home as possible. This is not the time to be traveling long distances to recreate. Cherished outdoor traditions further from home will be there for you later, after the public health situation has eased.
  • Do not host or attend gatherings with people who aren’t members of your immediate household. This includes gatherings like outdoor cookouts or barbeques, because those types of gatherings could spread COVID-19.
  • Explore the range of nearby public lands available to you. If you arrive at a park, water access site, or other public recreation land and see that it is busy, choose a different option. This will allow you to maintain social distancing, and reduce impacts on staff and resources. Also, consider visiting at off-peak times, typically early or late in the day.
  • Do not carpool to outdoor recreational activities with people other than those in your immediate household. Similarly, do not share equipment.
POLITICAL CONVENTIONS

The Minnesota DFL party announced that their convention, originally scheduled for May 30-31 in Rochester, will be moved online and conducted via a remote balloting system.

“I understand this is disappointing for our grassroots activists, party leaders, and endorsed candidates, and I share their disappointment. Our State Convention has historically been a tremendous opportunity for DFLers to hear from our elected officials, network with other activists, and learn more about the stakes of the upcoming elections. However, our first responsibility is to protect the health and well-being of the people of Minnesota,” said DFL Party chair Ken Martin.

“It is crucial we all remember that by staying home, we are protecting the health care workers, first responders, child care providers, and grocers on the front lines of this pandemic. By staying home, we are taking care of older Minnesotans and those with compromised immune systems. By staying home, we are saving lives. While this was not an easy decision to come to, I am confident that it is the right one and that DFL Party members will understand the urgent need to slow the spread of COVID-19.”

The Minnesota GOP announced a similar move last week.

LOCAL UPDATES

Five of Beltrami County’s six reported cases of COVID-19 have recovered to the point they no longer need isolation.

According to the daily MDH update, there are two cases in both Clearwater and Itasca Counties, and five cases in Cass County.

Nearby Polk County has 24 reported cases, and Becker County has two. Koochiching, Roseau, Pennington, Marshall and Mahnomen counties each have one case.

The Bemidji Alliance’s Gifts of Hope Fund program is underway. Locally-owned businesses will be able to submit themselves into a lottery as part of a program incentivizing locals to purchase gift certificates. Some gift certificates will be donated to families economically impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. More information is available here.

ITASCA COUNTY

Itasca County Public Health and Emergency Management reports that they remain at two cases in Itasca County. As an increase of testing supplies announced by the state last week, the testing for COVID-19 will increase rapidly.

“We have long anticipated that many unconfirmed and untested cases of COVID-19 existed in our county,” said Kelly Chandler, direct of Itasca County Health Department.
“With increased testing, we will have important information to help target our local efforts. With very limited testing supplies, our tools so far have been social distancing, hand washing and masking, and staying at home; now, we will have data, too. This also means that we will, most certainly, see the number of reported cases in Itasca County rise.”
Medical facilities in Grand Rapids, Deer River and Bigfork all are equipped for testing. Each facility has announced the following protocols:
Statement from Bigfork Valley Health Center: “Bigfork Valley continues to follow the Minnesota Department of Health guidance on testing guidelines and are able to collect samples on our campus.We are hopeful that we can increase testing as supplies become available.”
Statement from Grand Itasca Clinic and Hospital: “We are working with our team at Grand Itasca as well as our M Health Fairview partners to determine how and when we can go live with increased COVID-19 testing. We do not know when this will be ready yet, but we are working hard to implement it as soon as possible.”
Statement from Essentia Health, regarding Deer River and Grand Rapids facilities: “We are ramping up our testing to include all symptomatic patients, effective immediately. The process for receiving a test at the Deer River Hospital mobile testing site hasn’t changed. Individuals must still start an E-Visit(preferred) or call our COVID-19 hotline at 1-833-494-0836 to be screened and get a medical order before going to a mobile testing site. E-Visit and hotline COVID-19 screening is still free. The mobile testing site is located at the West Entrance by the flagpole.
“Essentia Deer River now staffs a Respiratory Symptoms clinic that is open by appointment Monday through Friday from 12-5 p.m. to have your symptoms evaluated through an in-person visit in a safe manner.If you have a cloth mask, we ask that you wear it to your appointment. Please call DR 218-246-8275 / GR 218-322-4900 and state that you are seeking an appointment in the Respiratory Symptoms Clinic and would like the call transferred to the Deer River or Grand Rapids Clinic scheduling staff. When you arrive for your appointment you will need to park at the West entrance by the sign and call the number provided to you to be escorted from your vehicle into the exam room. We want you to know we are here for you!“
A dedicated AdvancedCare Planning effort is underway to provide streamlined support for our patients who are at the highest risk for complications related to COVID-19. This includes proactively reaching out to this group of patients to offer education and resources related to staying healthy at this critical time, helping patients with navigating illness, and helping them make difficult decisions in advance of becoming ill. We want to reach out to those most vulnerable to severe COVID-19 illness and address their hopes, concerns, fears, and goals, and document them proactively. This individual-focused, mission-guided initiative will provide an important service to our patients, their family members and our communities. If you would like to start this discussion with your provider, please call DR 218-246-8275 / GR 218-322-4900 and ask to be transferred to the DeerRiver or Grand Rapids Clinic scheduling staff.”

“The sacrifices of Itasca residents and organizations have been significant, and important,” said Itasca County Emergency Preparedness Director Marlyn Halvorson. “I wish I could say this is over, but in many ways it’s just beginning for us here in our county. We are prepared, given what we know, and our network of more than 100 stakeholders is also ready to adapt as we learn more.”

CANCELLATIONS AND POSTPONEMENTS

The Bemidji High School Graduation Ceremony, traditionally held at the end of May at the Bemidji Sanford Center, has been postponed until a later date. There will be a car-style graduation procession from the Sanford Center to the Bemidji High School on May 23.

Bemidji State University’s 101st Commencement has been suspended, as were all ceremonies within the Minnesota State system. BSU’s commencement was scheduled for May 8. As the Sanford Center is also closed, no definite alternative celebration has yet been announced. Ideas can be submitted online here.

The First Friday Art Walk activities have been cancelled for the month of May.

 


Larissa Donovan is the News Director for the stations of Paul Bunyan Broadcasting and has been, almost without interruption, since Election Day 2016. She covers events and issues in north central Minnesota, which include local government, crime, courts, education, environment and social issues. She studied communications at Bemidji State University and received her degree in 2018. Larissa, native to the great state of New York, grew up in Bemidji, and enjoys spending her spare time with her family and pet cat. She also loves Star Trek, punk rock music and the theater.


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