Situation Update for Thursday, April 16

Posted at 11:11 a.m.

This article will be updated as more information becomes available.

STATE UPDATES

The Minnesota Department of Health reports there have been 103 new COVID-19 cases reported as of today, and seven deaths from COVID-19 complications. That brings the total to 1,912 cases of COVID-19, but over half of those have recovered to the point they no longer need isolation. Ninety-four Minnesotans total have lost their lives to COVID-19.

Over 40,000 tests have been completed by MDH and external laboratories. There are 103 patients in ICU with COVID-19, and 213 total currently in the hospital. There has been a total of 475 hospitalizations since the outbreak started in Minnesota.

Minnesota is one of the first states to implement the additional 13-week extension of unemployment benefits, which began yesterday.

Minnesotans can also take advantage of MNsure’s Special Enrollment Period (through Tuesday, April 21) and the Individual Income Tax grace period, which allows Minnesotans until July 15, 2020 to file and pay 2019 Minnesota Individual Income Tax without any penalty or interest.

MEDICAL NEWS BRIEFS

Kris Ehresmann, MDH infectious disease director, reported Tuesday that 98.5 percent of the 79 Minnesotans that had died from COVID-19 at that point had pre-existing or underlying health conditions. At least 57 of those patients had been in long-term care facilities. Jan Malcolm, MDH Commissioner, says they’re using an infection control approach to limit the outbreaks in these types of facilities.

HealthPartners, a Minnesota-based company, is developing a decontamination process to disinfect and reuse N-95 respirators. The disinfection process was reportedly tested by 3M and will likely be enacted at some Minnesota hospitals as soon as this week.

The Mayo Clinic is expanding the availability of a new test, introduced last week, designed to detect an immune response to the virus. The blood antibody test may signal if a patient has recovered from COVID-19. Mayo Labs reportedly have the capacity to run about 8,000 of these tests per day. The antibody testing is underway this week at the Bethesda Hospital in St. Paul.

cares act

Minnesota received over $1 billion from the Coronavirus Relief Fund, appropriated through the federal CARES Act, after registering through a portal made available earlier this week. These funds will be used to help offset the state’s costs associated with responding to the coronavirus pandemic.

“The state is providing critical funding to hospitals, public health departments, and first responders as we work together to keep Minnesotans safe amid the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Governor Tim Walz. “This critical federal funding will help support Minnesota’s state and local governments as we continue our efforts to combat the spread of the virus in Minnesota.”

Minnesota is expected to receive $2.187 billion through the Coronavirus Relief Fund, with a portion of that allocation directed to local units of government.

“This is an important first step from the federal government as Minnesota responds to COVID-19 in a fiscally responsible manner,” said Commissioner Myron Frans of Minnesota Management and Budget.

The remaining balance of the payment amounts due to Minnesota will be paid no later than April 24, 2020. States are waiting for additional guidance from the U.S. Department of the Treasury on how these funds can be spent.

TAKE-OUT BEER AND WINE

The Minnesota Legislature has come to an agreement on a provision that would allow restaurants and bars to sell off-sale beer and wine without an additional license. According to the bill’s text, no more than 72 ounces of malt beer, hard seltzers and ciders, or 750 milliliters of wine would be allowed to be sold with a takeout order, and they must be sold in their original, unopened packaging. The restaurants and bars must confirm that the person picking up the order is at least 21. The House Commerce committee will hold an informational hearing this afternoon.

LOCAL UPDATES

MDH reports some changes in the case numbers in northern Minnesota. Becker County now has one confirmed case of COVID-19, and Polk County is showing an additional case, bringing their total to two.

Beltrami County has five cases, Cass County has four, Clearwater County has three, Itasca County has two, and Mahnomen, Koochiching and Roseau counties each have one confirmed positive case of COVID-19.

MDH recently reported the first death from COVID-19 in Clay County. There are 43 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in that county.

ihs

Indian Health Service reports there have been no positive COVID-19 tests confirmed at White Earth, Cass Lake or Red Lake IHS Hospitals.

According to a Bemidji IHS official, the 17 positive cases of COVID-19 listed on the IHS website under the Bemidji region are for the entire region the Bemidji IHS office serves, which include 34 tribes and four Urban Indian Health programs in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin.


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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