Transformative COVID-19 Testing Announced

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Day 30 – Stay Home Order

Gov Tim Walz announced ‘transformative’ COVID-19 testing strategy in partnership with MDH, the Mayo Clinic and the U of M which will have testing capacity of 20,000 people per day—up from 8,000—for the virus that causes COVID-19.

Gov Tim Walz announced a joint Covid-19 testing program between MDH, University of Minnesota (U of M) and Mayo Clinic to enhance the current state’s testing capacity. The plan said to include two kinds of tests, ones that diagnose COVID-19 and others that see if a person has been exposed to the virus, along with increased tracing.The newly expanded COVID-19 testing plan is expected test up to 20K daily. During the announcement, the U of M dean of the Medical School, Jkub Tolar thanked the Gov Walz & state leaders for supporting their proposal.

This is a complex health challenge. It is only fitting that two of Minnesota’s pre-eminent research institutions answer the call together in our commitment to tackling this pandemic. We are deeply grateful to Gov. Walz and Minnesota leaders for supporting this testing strategy.

Jakub Tolar, Dean of the U of M Medical School (source: U website)

According to the U of M website, the program will “create a central lab to accommodate the expanded testing and a virtual command center in coordination with the health systems to monitor daily testing needs and coordinate rapid responses to outbreaks. The new protocols will expand contact tracing efforts for better control of the infection. The partnership will help to identify and respond to emerging “hotspots” of infection. It will collect data on prevalence, geographic distribution, and barriers to caring for people with the virus, and conduct groundbreaking research on COVID-19 to ensure that tests are applied according to the best emerging science.”

Praising the U and Mayo Clinic and as well as state and local health officials, Gov Walz said:

The ship is on the launch pad today. It has been built by the best engineers. It is staffed by the best astronauts we have.

Gov Tim Walz (source: MPR News)

Easing Restrictions

Gov Tim Walz eased some stay-at-home restriction on Thursday April 23, by announcing an estimated 80,000 to 100,000 em­ploy­ees could re­turn to work Mon­day April 27. ‘The move is tailored to manufacturers and offices that don’t have face-to-face interaction with clients and weren’t deemed critical industries that were exempt from the stay-at-home order’ writes the Star Tribune.

The MPR News reports, ‘state officials are stepping up Minnesota’s isolation and quarantine capacity — to boost disease investigation and to try to slow down the spread of the virus’.

The increase in testing and tracing will improve our control of the pandemic and help us think about those strategies to start reopening our society.

Gov Tim Walz (source: MPR News)

Gov Walz is quoted saying “the new allowance for specific industries was made based on the predictability of movement within their facilities”. According to the Tribune, ‘restrictions will not be lifted on retail locations that provide in-store services to customers. Retailers previously deemed to be critical, including grocery stores and pharmacies, are not affected by the new guidelines’.

This is a lim­it­ed first step in the proc­ess of safe­ly re­open­ing some busi­nes­ses and re­turn­ing Min­ne­so­tans to work.

Gov Tim Walz (source: Star Tribune)

The Star Tribune writes further quoting the Gov Walz: “everybody wants to know they’re going to be safe. But we also know, and I think the governor would agree, that we have to open up the economy as soon as we can and make sure everyone is safe. The fact that there’s more things opening up is good news.”

Coronavirus Pademic Watch

According to the MDH latest tally (as of April 22, 11 a.m.) the confirmed COVID-19 cases in Minnesota are 2,942 (out of 51,548 tested) with 200 deaths. According to Johns Hopkins database (as of April 23, 1:30 p.m.) there are 856,209 confirmed covid19 infection with 47,272 deaths. Globally the covid19 virus has infected 2,682,225 with 187,330 deaths.

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Cover image used in this posts is screenshot obtained from the University of Minnesota website.