Posted at 11:17 a.m. Updated at 2:40 p.m.
This article will be updated as more information becomes available.
Gov. Tim Walz, Minnesota Department of Health, Mayo Clinic and the University of Minnesota said that they will now be able to test 20,000 symptomatic Minnesotans a day as part of an announcement this afternoon on widespread COVID-19 testing.
According to MDH Commissioner Jan Malcolm, testing will be prioritized for vulnerable populations in congregate settings, staff that serve in those settings, as well as communities of color, American Indian populations and in outbreak hotspots.
With a $36 million withdrawal from the COVID-19 fund allotted by the Minnesota Legislature, the state was able to move quickly to enact an ambitious plan, with Mayo and U of M spearheading plans to provide a centralized lab, with the goal to test and use the information for both clinical treatment and on the public health side of things, tracing and containing those cases.
The MDH is reporting 154 new cases of COVID-19 in the state since yesterday, and an additional 19 deaths, bringing the total to 2,721 cases and 179 deaths.
MDH has reported that virtually all deaths are related to long-term care facilities, and most of the patients had underlying health conditions.
Over 1,300 patients have recovered to the point they no longer need to be isolated. Over 49,000 hae been tested.
There are fewer Minnesotans currently being hospitalized in the ICU for COVID-19. There are ten fewer ICU patients than there were yesterday, with a total of 107. Two hundred and forty Minnesotans are hospitalized as of today in total, and 660 have needed hospitalizations at some point.
The Jennie-O turkey store in Willmar confirmed that two of their employees have tested positive for COVID-19. This news comes days after the JBS pork processing in Worthington. Jennie-O President Steve Lykken reports that several people who had contact with the infected workers were sent home to self-quarantine, and affected employees will receive 100 percent pay and benefits while away from work. Lykken added the company will be transparent about any possible COVID-19 related closures.
Emergency food relief is coming soon to more than 250,000 Minnesotans who rely on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program to feed themselves during the coronavirus pandemic.
Minnesota is receiving about $55 million in emergency SNAP aid through the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act. These vital funds will maximize nutrition assistance for approximately 134,000 households, with more than 250,000 people. SNAP offers monthly food benefits based on a household’s income, expenses and number of people.
The Minnesota Department of Human Services will begin issuing the emergency supplements to qualifying households on April 28 and will continue throughout May on a staggered basis. People who qualify don’t have to take any action. Instead, the supplemental aid will be added to their Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards.
The Minnesota Republican Party will hold their convention digitally, rather than hold the event with thousands expected to attend in person. They’ll be making an endorsement decision for the U.S. Senate seat up for election this November, currently held by Sen. Tina Smith (D-Minn), as well as select representatives to attend the Republican National Convention.
No word yet on how the DFL party will hold their convention, which for now is scheduled for May 30.
Team Industries recently made a donation of 2,000 N95 masks to the Sanford Health Foundation of Northern Minnesota.
“TEAM Industries and TEAM Foundation are grateful for the health care providers in our communities and remain committed to supporting them in any way we can,” said Tricia Young, sales manager of TEAM Industries and president of TEAM Foundation.
“We understand the risks taken by health care workers during the COVID-19 pandemic and hope that these masks can help mitigate that risk. Our thoughts remain with all of those affected by COVID-19 and all of the health care professionals that support our communities every day.”
“We are very appreciative of TEAM Foundation’s thoughtful gift during this trying time,” said Susan Jarvis, president and CEO of Sanford Health of Northern Minnesota. “Their generosity will help contribute to protecting our staff on the frontlines as they provide essential care for our communities.”
MDH is now reporting six cases of COVID-19 in Beltrami County. The additional case since yesterday is likely the case reported by the Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office.
The Beltrami County Board of Commissioners failed to pass a resolution that asked Gov. Tim Walz to reopen rural Minnesota. The resolution barely made it on the agenda, as commissioners voted 3-2 to allow an amended agenda. Read more about it here.
Hours before the meeting, the Beltrami County Jail confirmed its first case of COVID-19 within the facility. Sheriff Ernie Beitel says the inmate was quarantined, as was the arresting officer. Read more here.
Polk County has seen a large increase of COVID-19 cases in a single day. The nearby county reported 13 new cases Tuesday. Read more about it here. Today, their total is 17 COVID-19 cases. Pennington and Marshall Counties are also showing their first cases, according to MDH.
Clerawater County has two cases, Cass County has four, Itasca has two, Mahnomen, Roseau and Koochiching counties each have one case.
The White Earth 152nd Annual celebration and pow wow has been postponed. According to a release, the event was previously scheduled for June 12-14. The White Earth Reservation Business Committee will either set a new date or cancel this year’s event sometime in June. The White Earth Nation website and Facebook page will have further announcements.