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Latest on COVID-19 in MN: Surge in deaths, cases may be starting

Apr 21, 2020 05:42AM ● By Editor
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz provides an update on the state's response to COVID-19 during a news conference on Monday in St. Paul. At the news conference, Walz and Ecolab CEO Doug Baker discussed the role of public-private partnerships in Minnesota's fight against COVID-19. 
Photo: Scott Takushi | Pioneer Press via AP, Pool

From Minnesota Public Radio News - April 21, 2020

Deaths mounted and new case numbers in the triple digits continued again on Monday as Minnesota continued grappling with what Gov. Tim Walz said could be the beginning of a major surge of the coronavirus. 

While the state is positioned to cope with a spike in cases, Walz said, normal life won't return anytime soon. 

"Minnesota has started potentially up the climb that we thought would come,” Walz told reporters of the past six days of COVID-19 data.

Here are the latest coronavirus statistics:

  • 2,470 cases via 46,850 tests

  • 143 deaths

  • 602 cases requiring hospitalization

  • 237 people remain hospitalized; 126 in intensive care

  • Youngest person in ICU is 20 years old

  • 1,202 patients recovered

Also on Monday, the governor said he had a good conversation with President Trump over the weekend. Walz said he feels state and federal authorities are now aligned on how to restart the economy. 

Trump on Friday stoked dissent for Walz's stay-at-home order by tweeting, "LIBERATE MINNESOTA!" the same day as hundreds gathered in front of the governor's mansion to protest the quarantine.

Walz said he told Trump the tweeting "is not really helpful," but added that he's not interested in placing blame. Rather, Walz said he told the president that Minnesota was trying to “thread the needle opening businesses while keeping people safe,” and Trump “expressed great desire to continue to work with us.”

Science and experts will continue guiding Walz's response to the coronavirus, he said, including how to reopen the state.

However, he also cautioned that even when businesses and retail establishments start to reopen they are “going to have to change the way business is done for the next 18 months …. the retail buying experience is going to change dramatically.”

There must be a clear safety plan before businesses can reopen on a broad scale, he added. "If opening up the businesses were safe, we'd do it tomorrow,” he said. “Just to say open up, that's not reasonable."

Developments from around the state

Duluth faces $25M budget shortfall amid COVID-19 outbreak

Duluth officials have begun making cuts to help absorb a projected $25 million budget shortfall caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mayor Emily Larson said Duluth will also delay opening the Lake Superior Zoo, Park Point beach house and Wade Stadium until July 1. The city will not open one of its two golf courses this summer, a move Larson said will save $150,000.

“This is one of the first announcements that I think will start impacting people in a very personal way. There will be many to come. I know that because I know the decisions that are likely ahead of us,” Larson said.

The mayor said Duluth will be able to move ahead with nearly $7 million in street projects. City officials also announced new loans and grant programs to help small businesses hurt by the pandemic.

The city has already laid off 45 temporary workers.

— Dan Kraker | MPR News

More than 100 cases linked to N.D. wind turbine factory; 11 from MN

A total of 128 people associated with a Grand Forks, N.D., wind turbine factory have tested positive for COVID-19.

LM Wind Power employees nearly 900 people. Grand Forks Public Health Director Deborah Swanson said about half of them were tested last week, and a significant number of those tests came back positive for COVID-19.

“The total number is 128 associated with this worksite; 11 of those individuals are residents of Minnesota. And our colleagues in Minnesota will be following up with contact investigation in Minnesota counties,” Swanson said.

Grand Forks city officials say workers at the plant had complained prior to the outbreak that the company wasn’t following health guidelines. Mayor Michael Brown said state and local health officials acted quickly when they learned of a possible outbreak at the plant.

LM Wind Power, which is owned by General Electric, has closed the facility for a minimum of 14 days.

— MPR News staff

Top headlines

Behind rallies to reopen economy, a Minnesota activist and his family: Across the country, Ben Dorr and his brothers, Chris and Aaron, have long opposed Republican legislators for not being conservative enough on issues ranging from guns to abortion. They are now promoting rallies to reopen businesses in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. Their detractors say they spread disinformation to sow confusion among voters.

Students with special needs could slip behind: Without the kind of in-person therapists, instruction and support found in schools, special education students and their families are facing steep challenges. Many are beginning to worry about regression.

Coronavirus spread puts Minnesota’s Willow River boot camp on edge: Just 8 miles from a coronavirus outbreak at the Moose Lake prison, another cluster of cases has emerged at a boot camp in Willow River, where up to 180 men live in very close quarters. It's an environment that some family members worry is ripe for the spread of the virus.

COVID-19 in Minnesota

Health officials for weeks have been increasingly raising the alarm over the spread of the novel coronavirus in the United States. The disease is transmitted through respiratory droplets, coughs and sneezes, similar to the way the flu can spread.

Government and medical leaders are urging people to wash their hands frequently and well, refrain from touching their faces, cover their coughs, disinfect surfaces and avoid large crowds, all in an effort to curb the virus’ rapid spread.

The state of Minnesota has temporarily closed schools, while administrators work to determine next steps, and is requiring a temporary closure of all in-person dining at restaurants, bars and coffee shops, as well as theaters, gyms, yoga studios and other spaces in which people congregate in close proximity.

To read the original story and see related COVID-19 reporting, follow this link to the MPR News website.
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