ST. PAUL — State officials have identified an alternate care site in Roseville to use if hospitals need to make space for critical patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Gov. Tim Walz and State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) staff finalized a $1.84 million dollar lease this week for Presbyterian Homes-Langton Place. The site would only be used for low-level medical care, not COVID-19 treatment. Hospitals would work with patients to identify those who could be safely transferred to alternate care sites to free up hospital space to treat COVID-19 patients. The transferred patients would continue their treatment or recovery in the alternate care site.
“Every day in the State Emergency Operations Center, we are working to prepare Minnesota for the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Joe Kelly, director of the Department of Public Safety’s division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (DPS-HSEM). “These facilities will only be used if there are no other options. We hope we never have to use them but as we have said before, hope is not a plan."
The Roseville alternate care site was identified by a working group comprising staff from DPS-HSEM, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Minnesota National Guard and the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH).
SEOC changing hotline hours
The SEOC remains fully activated and staffed either physically or virtually by all state agencies and several volunteer organizations.
The SEOC continues supporting the state hotline, which received 47 calls on April 28. Employees are answering calls at 651-297-1304 or 800-657-3504. The hotline is currently operating from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. Beginning Saturday, May 2, weekend hours will be 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The change in hotline hours will drive a reduction in SEOC operation hours. The SEOC will move to a 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. schedule on weekends beginning Saturday, May 2. Even with the SEOC schedule change, officials are available virtually around the clock to respond to any need that arise.
COVID-19 cases increase as testing continues to expand
319 reported deaths — an increase of 18 since April 28; 16 of the 18 deaths were residents in long-term care facilities.
4,644 lab-confirmed cases in Minnesota — an increase of 463 cases since April 28.
320 patients are currently hospitalized with 119 in intensive care units (ICU). The number of ICU patients is down one from April 28.
2,043 patients have been released from isolation.
The MDH public hotline remains open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily at 651-201-3920.
Digital tool now available to help businesses, organizations screen COVID-19 health-related symptoms
Minnesota IT Services and the Minnesota Safety Council in collaboration with Target have launched the Minnesota Symptom Screener. The screener is a digital tool designed for businesses and organizations to screen COVID-19 health-related symptoms of employees and other people entering their facilities, to help manage and promote a healthy and safe workplace and environment.
Using a few simple questions and recording an optional daily temperature check, this web-based tool allows businesses and organizations to gather non-personal, anonymous information to help assess the health of anyone entering their facilities.
The Minnesota Symptom Screener tool provides organizations with a daily snapshot of the health indicators of people about to enter a facility or workplace, and it allows businesses and organizations to access anonymized reports that help identify health trends and shape the organization’s response.
Learn more in this blog from Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) Commissioner Steve Grove.
Red Cross in Minnesota: Services for military families during COVID-19
The Red Cross is supporting the Minnesota National Guard and their families with two online workshops, including Coping with Deployments and COVID-19 Resiliency. The workshops are led by licensed mental health clinicians who have completed specialized Red Cross training.
The Red Cross is planning a face mask project that will help provide handmade face masks to regional VA Hospitals, including Minneapolis and St Cloud hospitals. This project will provide face coverings that meet CDC guidelines and withstand industrial washing.
The Red Cross support for emergency communications messages for military families is ongoing through its Hero Care Network, which is available seven days a week, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, with two options for requesting assistance: online and by phone.
MDE provides guidance for in-person assessments and hands-on course completion
Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) Commissioner Mary Cathryn Ricker, in consultation with MDH Commissioner Jan Malcolm, has provided school districts and charter schools with guidance to allow students to go into school buildings for very specific needs that cannot be met in a distance learning format. At this time, two allowable uses have been identified under a provision allowed in Executive Order 20-41. In both areas listed below, school districts and charter schools should prioritize graduating students. To be clear, these are the only uses that are permitted:
In-person assessments related to bilingual and multilingual seals that cannot be proctored at home.
Hands-on course completion requirements that cannot be completed at home, such as lab-based summative assignments, capstone evaluations and assessments, prioritizing those leading to industry credentials in health care and child care/early learning.
Many school districts and charter schools have already determined workarounds to be able to meet these needs in a distance learning environment. In these cases, school buildings would not be used, as these provisions are intended for students when the work cannot be done outside of a school building. Schools can access the guidance on MDE’s COVID-19 webpage.
Traffic volumes remain below 2019 numbers
The Minnesota Department of Transportation continues to monitor traffic volumes statewide.
Metro area: Traffic volumes on Tuesday, April 28 were down 38 percent compared to Tuesday averages for April 2019.
Statewide: Traffic volumes on Tuesday, April 28 were down 29 percent compared to Tuesday averages for April 2019.