Health Department officials are cautiously optimistic that the mass gatherings seen in recent weeks, in response to the killing of George Floyd have not led to a surge in the numbers of COVID-19 cases in Minnesota.
As results come in from community testing in areas where protests took place, they are not seeing an increase in positive results which suggests that widespread transmission of the disease did not happen during the outdoor protests.
“We were able to meet the need for testing for a lot of people and we were pleased to see the positive for testing was under two percent,” said Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm on a recent COVID-19 press conference.
However, Kris Ehresmann, Director of MDH Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Prevention, and Control Division is raising concerns about another health issue that national public health officials are calling attention to; over the last several months, as much of the country has followed stay-at-home orders, there’s been a steep reduction in emergency room visits. According to the Center for Disease Control, emergency room visits have dropped off as much as 42-percent, since the pandemic began.
Erhresmann says this sharp decline is concerning because it suggests that people who are experiencing potentially life-threatening symptoms such as heart attack, stroke, or uncontrolled blood sugar, are NOT seeking the emergency care they need.
“Our concern is that we want to make sure that people who are experiencing signs or symptoms of serious illness… such as severe chest pains, sudden loss of motor function, signs of extreme hyperglycemic or life-threatening illness should seek care, regardless of the pandemic,” said Ehresmann.
Minnesota’s Health department Officials want the public to know that it is safe to go to the emergency room for care. Health care providers know how to take precautions to keep patients safe and they have the supplies to do so.