Great news from the Governor today. Here is what happened:
Governor Walz was joined by University of Minnesota Medical School Dean Dr. Jakub Tolar, Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm, and Minnesota healthcare industry leaders to announce that Minnesota is launching a comprehensive, statewide testing, contact tracing, and outbreak monitoring/containment program that aims to test as many as 20,000 Minnesotans per day. Per the Governor's written press release, "In partnership with MDH, the Mayo Clinic and the U of M 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 goal of this statewide testing strategy is to ensure anybody who is symptomatic, a member of a vulnerable population, or who are on the front lines of combatting this crisis are able to get tested. Increased testing will give us a more robust understanding of the extent of this disease spread, and provide an opportunity for us to better understand how and when we can safely begin to gradually reopen our state.
Dr. Tolar speculated that the implementation of this strategy may be only 2-3 weeks away, however MDH Commissioner Malcolm cautioned that there is not a magic number for when this strategy will be fully implemented. An important aspect of this strategy is the University of Minnesota and Minnesota-based industries are working to eliminate a key barrier to comprehensive testing: disruptions in the supply chain of testing components as a result of significant national demand for these supplies. By producing homegrown tests that do not rely on out-of-state producers of testing supplies, in conjunction with building testing capacity with existing testing supplies, Minnesota will be able to swiftly expand testing capacity.
Governor Walz also said, “The plans that we are going to implement will make Minnesota a national, if not international, leader in understanding and addressing this public health crisis. None of this will matter if we do not continue to practice social distancing. Wanting to get back to work is not the same as planning to get back to work.”
Minnesota's state government is putting together a comprehensive plan for us to get back to business, but this has to be a thoughtful, considerate, and gradual process in order for us to get this right. The pain that people feel is real, and we will be able to, with the implementation of this testing and outbreak response strategy, continue to make the most carefully evaluated, science-based decisions for navigating through this disease outbreak.
Studies on Lethality of COVID-19
There have been a few articles circulated reporting that, based on two relatively small, non-peer reviewed studies that have come out of Stanford and the University of Southern California, researchers observed that--of the study sample populations of about 3,300 and roughly 900 people included in these studies respectively--it appears that the fatality rate from COVID-19 is closer to that of influenza. There are significant issues with the research participant sampling and research methodology used to establish these assumptions. Stanford used Facebook ads to recruit people for their study, and used certain antibody tests that have been specifically scrutinized for errors in accuracy. This article published in WIRED goes into great detail about some of the major issues with this research and the preliminary conclusions drawn from it.
Keep in Touch
As always, I am here to assist you in any way I am able. I am keeping everyone in our community in my thoughts and prayers during this challenging time.
Please contact me anytime with questions, input, or ideas. You can reach me at my Facebook page, by phone at 651-296-4212, or by email (preferred and quickest response) at firstname.lastname@example.org. Don’t hesitate to reach out if I can provide any assistance!
Your Neighbor and State Representative