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  13. <title>MinnPost</title>
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  15. <link></link>
  16. <description>Nonprofit, nonpartisan journalism. Supported by readers.</description>
  17. <lastBuildDate>Mon, 30 Mar 2020 17:05:54 +0000</lastBuildDate>
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  24. <title>DEED creates unemployment application schedule to cope with high demand</title>
  25. <link></link>
  26. <comments></comments>
  27. <pubDate>Mon, 30 Mar 2020 17:00:40 +0000</pubDate>
  28. <dc:creator><![CDATA[Tom Nehil]]></dc:creator>
  29. <category><![CDATA[The Glean]]></category>
  31. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  32. <description><![CDATA[Plus: Minnesota’s COVID-19 modeling, explained; checking in with nursing home residents; Minnesota Opera costume shop sews face masks for medical workers; and more.]]></description>
  33. <content:encoded><![CDATA[<p><figure id="attachment_843060" class="m-content-media wp-caption aligncenter"><img class="size-full wp-image-843060" src=";strip=all" alt="DEED Commissioner Steve Grove: “The [unemployment insurance] trust fund is in really good shape.”" width="640" height="427" srcset=";strip=all?w=640&amp;strip=all 640w,;strip=all?w=190&amp;strip=all 190w,;strip=all?w=400&amp;strip=all 400w,;strip=all?w=50&amp;strip=all 50w,;strip=all?w=75&amp;strip=all 75w,;strip=all?w=200&amp;strip=all 200w,;strip=all?w=130&amp;strip=all 130w" sizes="(max-width: 640px) 100vw, 640px" data-recalc-dims="1" /><figcaption class="m-content-caption wp-caption-text"><div class="a-media-meta a-media-credit">MinnPost photo by Peter Callaghan</div><div class="a-media-meta a-media-caption">DEED Commissioner Steve Grove</div></figcaption></figure><strong>Desperate measures.</strong> <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"> The Pioneer Press’ Dane Mizutani reports:</a> “As unemployment claims continue to hit an all-time high across the country, the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development has decided to assign specific days of the week for people to apply. … <strong>Anyone that hasn’t already applied for unemployment will now have to do so based on the last digit in their Social Security number.</strong>”</p>
  34. <p><strong>Best explanation of the Minnesota COVID-19 modeling we’ve seen.</strong> <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"> The Pioneer Press’ Dave Orrick reports:</a> “<strong>Minnesotans are preventing tens of thousands of coronavirus deaths by making unprecedented sacrifices of personal freedoms and commerce in the face of the pandemic</strong>, according to the model that informed Gov. Tim Walz’s “Stay at Home” order.  … Models of epidemics are fraught with uncertainty, and that’s especially the case now, as statisticians attempt to game out the behavior of a virus that was unknown to science four months ago among a population that has never experienced anything like it.”</p>
  35. <p><strong>Photo essay visits nursing home residents through the window.</strong> <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">From the Duluth News Tribune’s Erica Dischino reports:</a> “It’s a cool, foggy Tuesday afternoon. I stand in the foyer of the Bethesda senior living community in Willmar wearing a pair of rain boots, with a camera hanging from a strap around my neck. As the photojournalist for the West Central Tribune, I’ve taken photos at Bethesda many times, but never quite like this. … Tiffany Picard, the recreation director and volunteer coordinator at Bethesda, walks through the glass doors and greets me with a warm smile. She shows me a map of the facility with red dots marked on the rooms I would be visiting from the exterior.”</p>
  36. <p><strong>Playing an important role.</strong> <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"> The Star Tribune’s Jenna Ross writes:</a> “The folks in the Minnesota Opera&#8217;s costume shop usually craft couture gowns with corsets, wondrous costumes in weighty fabrics. Works of art. … ‘Now we&#8217;re sewing rectangles to save lives,’ said Corinna Bakken, the opera&#8217;s costume director. … With shows on hold, workers in the opera&#8217;s shuttered costume and scene shops have turned to a new project: making face masks to protect people. <strong>The costumers are sewing masks for nurses, doctors and others facing shortages of protective gear according to patterns approved by HealthPartners. Scene shop workers are making the deliveries.</strong>”</p>
  37. <div class="acm-ad ad-" id="acm-ad-tag-"></div>
  38. <h4>In other news…</h4>
  39. <p><strong>Needs state approval:</strong> “<a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Chippewa, Lac qui Parle and Swift counties must postpone opening COVID care center</a>” [West Central Tribune]</p><div class="acm-ad ad-" id="acm-ad-tag-"></div>
  40. <p><strong>First, do no harm:</strong> “<a href="">Mayo Clinic urges caution for health care providers prescribing &#8216;off-label&#8217; meds for COVID-19</a>” [KSTP]</p>
  41. <p><strong>Nice:</strong> “<a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Kyle and Jordan Rudolph donate 82,000 meals to Minnesotans in need</a>” [KARE]</p>
  42. <p><strong>Could be worse:</strong> “<a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Coronavirus strands Minnesota tourists in paradise</a>” [City Pages]</p>
  43. <p><strong>Finally:</strong> “<a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Gophers create ‘Goldycraft,’ a replica of UMN Twin-Cities campus on Minecraft</a>” [Minnesota Daily]</p>
  44. <p><strong>Not like you had anywhere to go:</strong> “<a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Portion of I-94 in St. Paul will close next weekend for Dale Street bridge project</a>” [Pioneer Press]</p>]]></content:encoded>
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  47. </item>
  48. <item>
  49. <title>Here&#8217;s how much money Minnesota will get from the $2.2 trillion federal coronavirus response bill — and what it will pay for</title>
  50. <link></link>
  51. <comments></comments>
  52. <pubDate>Mon, 30 Mar 2020 15:33:34 +0000</pubDate>
  53. <dc:creator><![CDATA[Peter Callaghan]]></dc:creator>
  54. <category><![CDATA[Health]]></category>
  55. <category><![CDATA[National]]></category>
  56. <category><![CDATA[Politics & Policy]]></category>
  57. <category><![CDATA[State Government]]></category>
  58. <category><![CDATA[coronavirus]]></category>
  59. <category><![CDATA[COVID-19]]></category>
  61. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  62. <description><![CDATA[<span style="font-weight: 400;">The state will receive $2.187 billion as its share of a $150 billion Coronavirus Relief Fund — as well as millions more from a variety of other federal sources. </span>]]></description>
  63. <content:encoded><![CDATA[<p><figure id="attachment_654405" class="m-content-media wp-caption aligncenter"><img class="size-full wp-image-654405" src=";strip=all" alt="" width="640" height="455" srcset=";strip=all?w=640&amp;strip=all 640w,;strip=all?w=190&amp;strip=all 190w,;strip=all?w=400&amp;strip=all 400w,;strip=all?w=50&amp;strip=all 50w,;strip=all?w=75&amp;strip=all 75w,;strip=all?w=200&amp;strip=all 200w,;strip=all?w=130&amp;strip=all 130w" sizes="(max-width: 640px) 100vw, 640px" data-recalc-dims="1" /><figcaption class="m-content-caption wp-caption-text"><div class="a-media-meta a-media-credit"><a href="">MinnPost photo by Tom Olmscheid</a></div><div class="a-media-meta a-media-caption">Minnesota Management and Budget Commissioner Myron Frans: “It’s going to be a good start. And they said they’re going to pay this within 30 days.”</div></figcaption></figure><span style="font-weight: 400;">Minnesota and its local governments will receive more than $2 billion in direct funds — and millions more from a variety of other accounts — via the national COVID-19 response legislation passed by Congress Friday.</span></p>
  64. <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The state will receive $2.187 billion as its share of a $150 billion Coronavirus Relief Fund, which is just one part of the appropriations that could flow to state and local governments out of the $2.2 trillion stimulus bill. Of that total, $1.2 billion goes directly to the state and $984 million will be distributed to local governments.</span></p>
  65. <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">According to an analysis by the </span><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">National Conference of State Legislatures</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">, the money from the Coronavirus Relief Fund can cover expenses incurred due to the pandemic and the revenue declines that will result from the economic impacts. The expenses cannot have been included in each state’s most-recently adopted budget, the May 2019 two-year budget for Minnesota.</span></p>
  66. <p>In addition to the money from the Coronavirus Relief Fund, money will flow directly to colleges, public school districts and transit agencies from different sources as appropriated in the federal law. Most of those distributions will use existing formulas for the funds. There is also specific actions in the bill funding emergency management, food shelves, child welfare services, National Guard deployments and both state and local public health agencies.</p><div class="acm-ad ad-" id="acm-ad-tag-"></div>
  67. <p>&#8220;It&#8217;s going to be a good start,&#8221; said Minnesota Management and Budget Commissioner Myron Frans. &#8220;And they said they&#8217;re going to pay this within 30 days,&#8221; referring to the state&#8217;s expenses related to the coronavirus response that were incurred after March 1. Frans said most of what the state Legislature has appropriated since then could be paid back by the federal government.</p>
  68. <p>&#8220;It&#8217;s going to be helpful for our budget,&#8221; Frans said.</p>
  69. <p>Two weeks, ago he said that the state&#8217;s revenue will fall as a result of the economic disruptions caused by closures and stay home orders. At the same time, the state&#8217;s expenses would grow to fight the virus. The question, he said, wasn&#8217;t when the state would be in a budgetary deficit, but when. &#8220;This is going to help keep a lid on expenditures going up, at least with respect to the COVID-19 situation,&#8221; he said.</p>
  70. <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">According to the </span><a href=""><span style="font-weight: 400;">Federal Funds Information for States</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">, each state will receive funds based on their population, though no state will receive less than $1.25 billion. There is also a provision that 45 percent of each state’s award is set aside for large local governments — those with a population of 500,000 or more. No Minnesota cities are in that category but two counties both meet that threshold: Hennepin and Ramsey counties. The states are charged with distributing that money — Minnesota&#8217;s share is $984 million — to local governments.</span></p>
  71. <p>The other funding areas are likely to be distributed on a per capita basis, Frans said, but the states are still waiting for guidance from the U.S. Treasury and other agencies as to how the funds will be sent out. Minnesota state agencies are working with their federal counterparts to get more information.</p>
  72. <p>As welcome as the money is, it adds an accounting and policy-making wrinkle to operations, since the state government will need to make sure that it spends its own money in ways that assure reimbursement. &#8220;We now have to maintain this spreadsheet that shows all these different funds and where they came from and what they do so we don&#8217;t spend other money somewhere else that could be spent in those buckets,&#8221; Frans said. &#8220;We want to make sure we spend out of the right bucket so we get reimbursement for that money.</p>
  73. <p>&#8220;In the meantime, we will spend state money for things we need right now with the idea that we&#8217;ll get reimbursed,&#8221; he said.</p>
  74. <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">According to an analysis of the COVID-19 stimulus bill done by the National Conference of State Legislatures, money that doesn’t go to local governments will go back to each state. </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">Of the $150 billion for states and territories, $8 billion will be distributed to federally recognized tribal governments.</span></p>
  75. <div class="acm-ad ad-" id="acm-ad-tag-"></div>
  76. <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Minnesota has been </span><a href=""><span style="font-weight: 400;">appropriating state money to respond to COVID-19 since the pandemic began</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">, with a total of $550 million allocated so far. While its current forecast still shows a projected budget surplus of $811 million — down from $1.5 billion just a month ago — budget officials expect that to disappear as state tax revenues take hits from the recession that is now expected in the wake of the pandemic. In addition, the state expects it will be tapping into a $1.867 billion rainy day savings account soon.</span></p>
  77. <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt said Thursday that the latest state appropriation of $330 million was crafted to be eligible for reimbursement from the new federal funds. The Crown Republican predicted that the coming deficits could exceed those following the Great Recession, when the state was $6.2 billion in the hole and forced to convene a series of emergency sessions to cut budgets and increase revenue.</span></p><div class="acm-ad ad-" id="acm-ad-tag-"></div>
  78. <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The Relief Fund for States is just one of the appropriations that could bring direct financial assistance to states. Some others:</span></p>
  79. <ul>
  80. <li style="margin-bottom: 10px;">Expanded unemployment benefits: money that will pay for states to extend benefits — and to add $600 a week to each recipient;</li>
  81. <li style="margin-bottom: 10px;">$45 billion in disaster relief funds to all states via the Federal Emergency Management Agency; another $25 billion is available for major disasters declared by the federal government;</li>
  82. <li style="margin-bottom: 10px;">$100 million to support state and local emergency management agencies for coordination, communications and logistics;</li>
  83. <li style="margin-bottom: 10px;">$200 million for the Emergency Food and Shelter Program;</li>
  84. <li style="margin-bottom: 10px;">$4.3 billion for the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention for work on COVID-19, including funding state and local public health responders;</li>
  85. <li style="margin-bottom: 10px;">$500 million for public health data surveillance;</li>
  86. <li style="margin-bottom: 10px;">$3.5 billion for Child Care and Development Block Grants to provide help to childcare providers;</li>
  87. <li style="margin-bottom: 10px;">$45 million in grants for child welfare services;</li>
  88. <li style="margin-bottom: 10px;">$1 billion to Community Services Block Grants to help community-based organizations provide social services and emergency assistance;</li>
  89. <li style="margin-bottom: 10px;">$1.4 billion for National Guard deployments under the direction of governors;</li>
  90. <li style="margin-bottom: 10px;">$30.75 billion for an Education Stabilization Fund for states, school districts and colleges and universities for costs related to the coronavirus. Included in that amount is $13.5 billion for states, based on the same formula that federal money is now distributed; $3 billion for governors to allocate at their discretion, to distribute based on the number of school- and college-age residents; and $14.25 billion for colleges and universities, with half of that going for emergency financial aid grants to students;</li>
  91. <li style="margin-bottom: 10px;">$25 billion to transit systems based on existing formulas for federal funds, money that can cover lost revenue from fares during the crisis;</li>
  92. <li style="margin-bottom: 10px;">$453 million to the Bureau of Indian Affairs for response efforts including for public safety, justice programs, welfare assistance and social services;</li>
  93. <li style="margin-bottom: 10px;">$300 million for Native American housing, including $200 million for Indian Housing Block Grants;</li>
  94. <li style="margin-bottom: 10px;">$400 million for election support.</li>
  95. </ul>
  96. <div class="acm-ad ad-" id="acm-ad-tag-"></div>
  97. <p><span style="font-weight: 400;"> </span></p>]]></content:encoded>
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  99. <slash:comments>0</slash:comments>
  100. </item>
  101. <item>
  102. <title>‘Like a recession that happened overnight’: a Q&#038;A with DEED Commissioner Steve Grove</title>
  103. <link></link>
  104. <comments></comments>
  105. <pubDate>Mon, 30 Mar 2020 14:32:21 +0000</pubDate>
  106. <dc:creator><![CDATA[Walker Orenstein]]></dc:creator>
  107. <category><![CDATA[Health]]></category>
  108. <category><![CDATA[Politics & Policy]]></category>
  109. <category><![CDATA[State Government]]></category>
  110. <category><![CDATA[coronavirus]]></category>
  111. <category><![CDATA[COVID-19]]></category>
  112. <category><![CDATA[DEED]]></category>
  113. <category><![CDATA[Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development]]></category>
  114. <category><![CDATA[Steve Grove]]></category>
  116. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  117. <description><![CDATA[<span style="font-weight: 400;">In an interview, Grove said DEED’s goal has been to tide businesses and workers over until federal relief can reach them.</span>]]></description>
  118. <content:encoded><![CDATA[<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">A month into the coronavirus pandemic, a once rosy outlook state officials had on a stable economy has vanished.</span></p>
  119. <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Minnesota’s 3.1 percent unemployment rate in February has given way to more than 220,000 people asking for unemployment benefits in March. For the Department of Employment and Economic Development, a mission to fill 140,000 open jobs in the state has been replaced by the task of shepherding Minnesotans through a stay-at-home order that could leave 28 percent of the state temporarily out of work.</span></p>
  120. <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">At the helm of the agency is Steve Grove, a former Google executive who was appointed to the job in January of 2019. Over the last few weeks, DEED quickly expanded who is eligible for unemployment, launched a new $30 million emergency loan program for businesses, and worked with the Legislature to start a $10 million program to help small businesses pay back private loans.</span></p>
  121. <p><span style="font-weight: 400;"></p>
  122. <div class="acm-ad ad-" id="acm-ad-tag-"></div>
  123. <p>In an interview, Grove said DEED’s goal has been to tide businesses and workers over until federal relief can reach them. Congress passed a $2 trillion stimulus bill last week that includes direct payments to t</span>axpayers, as well as other business and disaster loans. “For a small business who is teetering on the edge and needs some help to survive, even just for a matter of weeks, the state wants to move quickly to try and help them,” Grove said.</p><div class="acm-ad ad-" id="acm-ad-tag-"></div>
  124. <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">MinnPost talked with Grove to learn more about how his agency has responded to the COVID-19 outbreak and what the future might hold for Minnesota’s economy. This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.</span></p>
  125. <p><b>MinnPost: Is there anything else left to do to bridge the gap for businesses until federal money gets here?</b></p>
  126. <p><b>Steve Grove: </b><span style="font-weight: 400;">Well, we&#8217;re always looking for new ways we can help. And I think we&#8217;ve got a lot of good ideas in the private sector, too. I do think that the federal government just has such a better set of levers for this kind of recovery given that they can go into debt and print money, all that — things that states can&#8217;t do. So I do think that most of our focus in the coming weeks is going to be getting our systems set up to take advantage of those federal dollars. One of the pieces of that is, of course, unemployment insurance. So we moved quickly, more quickly than almost any state, to expand and open up our unemployment insurance program for people affected by COVID. And so that was a good first step. </span></p>
  127. <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">But now the federal government has passed additional funding for pandemic unemployment insurance, which essentially pulls from the disaster unemployment insurance federal statutes to get more money to businesses and opens up funding for gig economy workers and those who aren&#8217;t a part of the unemployment insurance system. So that&#8217;s going to be a big effort because our unemployment insurance system, nor is any states’ unemployment insurance system, set up to deploy that kind of capital. </span></p>
  128. <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">And so states across the country are having to kind of rewire their systems from a platform perspective to be able to issue those kinds of payments — which are great and much needed — to ensure that we can get that money out. So a big part of the coming effort is to make sure that </span><a href=""><span style="font-weight: 400;"></span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> and all of its functionality is set up to deploy money to people who it was never built to serve because of the way that unemployment insurance works.</span></p>
  129. <p><b>MP: One question that I had was while you’re setting all this up: What is the process behind the scenes like? Are you following another state, or is there a handbook, &#8220;In Case of Pandemic?&#8221;</b></p>
  130. <p><b>SG: </b><span style="font-weight: 400;">Well, I have a researcher who every day is just scouring the web and scouring other states&#8217; activity for any new ideas that are coming up in other states. So we get a steady feed of those ideas coming in to bank off of, and an example of that was we saw what Massachusetts did. They had a similar emergency loan program to the one that we launched, but they only put $10 million in it and they allowed a maximum of $75,000 (per loan) in it, which is almost double what we did. And they ran out of money in three days. So we kind of watched that and we&#8217;re like, okay, we need to calibrate a little bit differently. A: we probably need more money per capita and B: we probably need to lower the maximum amount. So every state is kind of learning from each other. </span></p>
  131. <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">There&#8217;s this kind of laboratory of democracy happening across the country as states figure out different ways, respond. I think the federal government response has really put us behind and so states have had to try stuff, experiment with stuff and so we are tracking other states. You know there isn&#8217;t a playbook for this. Obviously this is a global health pandemic unlike anything we&#8217;ve ever seen. We do look back at how the state has responded in recessions in the past, which I think gives us some sense of ideas and things that we can tackle. But of course, the fundamentally unique thing that we&#8217;re dealing with here is that this is like a recession that happened overnight. It&#8217;s not something that sort of happened over time and we had time to build up for. </span></p>
  132. <div class="acm-ad ad-" id="acm-ad-tag-"></div>
  133. <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">An example of that is unemployment insurance, the number of people that we employ in that division, at DEED, that always matches the need the state has, right? You don&#8217;t want to have too many people in the program if unemployment is at 3.1 percent which is what it was before this crisis began. So we had non-recession level staffing and then suddenly overnight we&#8217;re seeing that we&#8217;ve had more people apply for unemployment insurance since the start (of the outbreak) than we had in all of 2019. So you can imagine the staffing and resource constraints that provides. But we&#8217;re adapting. </span></p>
  134. <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">I think one of the things we&#8217;ve been able to do is pull people from other parts of DEED into the unemployment insurance program. We&#8217;ve looked back at who may have worked in the program before. Some of our hospitals are seeing doctors and nurses come in off the bench from retirement to help, we&#8217;re kind of doing the same thing at DEED. And so the team is flexing and I would say that there is a real spirit of comradery and creativity inside the department. This is why people get into government to serve. And that that kind of morale is inspiring for me to see at a time of crisis.</span></p><div class="acm-ad ad-" id="acm-ad-tag-"></div>
  135. <p><b>MP: When you look at Congress, they’re passing a one-time check for people, they’re able to greatly increase the length of unemployment payments and expand eligibility further. Are those things needed at a state level and can they be done at a state level? </b></p>
  136. <p><b>SG:  </b><span style="font-weight: 400;">States aren&#8217;t set up with the kind of revenue streams to get that done. That&#8217;s why federal government dollars are so important here. We have to balance our budget in the state. We can&#8217;t go into debt, We can&#8217;t print money. Those are things that the federal government can do. We&#8217;re working very closely with (Minnesota Management and Budget) on this and, of course, they&#8217;re tracking our revenues in the state, which are of course going down because business is slowing up and the crisis is decreasing tax dollars that are paid. </span></p>
  137. <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">And so, no, I don&#8217;t think it would be wise or efficient to look at deploying state money in the same way. It doesn&#8217;t mean we&#8217;re not considering everything. Of course, we&#8217;re looking across everything that we could do, but you really got to be smart and take advantage of those federal dollars, maximize them, increase the speed at which you can get them moving. And that&#8217;s what we&#8217;re trying to do.</span></p>
  138. <p><b>MP: You’ve been talking to businesses. What’s your assessment of the ability for businesses to bounce back and actually exist after this? We’ve heard from a number of industries who are worried about their ability to stick around. And just around Minneapolis places are closing their doors for good already.</b></p>
  139. <p><b>SG: </b><span style="font-weight: 400;">I do think Minnesota businesses are resilient, and we&#8217;re blessed with having a diverse economy that has in past times of economic hardship been able to bounce back better than other states. But this is difficult and it&#8217;s heartbreaking to see businesses closing up shop. There&#8217;s no question this is an unprecedented time. There&#8217;s been this kind of immediate response that we&#8217;ve been engaged in; I think we&#8217;re thinking a lot about what the long-term effects of this are and what we can do to help businesses startup with greater speed and efficiency once this passes, because it will pass and this economy will bounce back. </span></p>
  140. <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">But the economy probably will look different. &#8230; And so we&#8217;re beginning to engage private sector leaders on that, we&#8217;re beginning to form an economic security working group that&#8217;s supposed to be looking at those near term levers we can use to head off the challenges. </span></p>
  141. <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">At the same time, I&#8217;m looking at when this thing bounces back, what do we need to do to make sure the economy can ramp up again in a way that helps all Minnesotans achieve stability and helps as many businesses who can restart and new businesses enter the market too. So yeah, that is an important question. We&#8217;re engaging in it and we&#8217;re going to need help in the private sector too, to make sure government&#8217;s doing the right thing to make that work.</span></p>]]></content:encoded>
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  144. </item>
  145. <item>
  146. <title>On character, leadership, and what we need right now</title>
  147. <link></link>
  148. <comments></comments>
  149. <pubDate>Mon, 30 Mar 2020 13:46:38 +0000</pubDate>
  150. <dc:creator><![CDATA[Susan Albright]]></dc:creator>
  151. <category><![CDATA[Community Voices]]></category>
  152. <category><![CDATA[Perspectives]]></category>
  154. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  155. <description><![CDATA[To me, character is defined as trying to make the best decisions you can as you navigate your way in the world — then taking responsibility for these decisions.]]></description>
  156. <content:encoded><![CDATA[<p><figure id="attachment_831899" class="m-content-media wp-caption aligncenter"><img class="size-full wp-image-831899" src=";strip=all" alt="" width="640" height="427" srcset=";strip=all?w=640&amp;strip=all 640w,;strip=all?w=190&amp;strip=all 190w,;strip=all?w=400&amp;strip=all 400w,;strip=all?w=50&amp;strip=all 50w,;strip=all?w=75&amp;strip=all 75w,;strip=all?w=200&amp;strip=all 200w,;strip=all?w=130&amp;strip=all 130w" sizes="(max-width: 640px) 100vw, 640px" data-recalc-dims="1" /><figcaption class="m-content-caption wp-caption-text"><div class="a-media-meta a-media-credit">MinnPost photo by Peter Callaghan</div><div class="a-media-meta a-media-caption">When Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm speaks, I feel a little extra pride, since she is a woman near my age.</div></figcaption></figure>Last week I read an opinion piece in which the author fretted that the admonishments to “social distance” and “shelter in place,” because of the global pandemic, are going to destroy whatever sense of community we Americans still possess, as we all retreat into our own private corners, looking out for ourselves alone. My experience so far has been quite the opposite.</p>
  157. <p>Lately, I cannot count the number of times I have heard the phrase “We’re all in this together.” In the past week I have communicated with practically every friend I have, as we check on each other’s well-being. My husband and I, both in our 70s, are going to “Zoom” with his college roommate. I have received emails from around the world.</p>
  158. <p>On Facebook, the generosity shown is impressive. One family is making 20 pans of lasagna for seniors. Others are sewing or delivering masks. My efforts are more modest. I call people to see if they need anything. We order takeout from restaurants which are still open. I recommend books online.</p>
  159. <h4>Minnesotans: doing the right things</h4>
  160. <p>Everyone I know in Minnesota is following directions: washing hands obsessively, keeping a distance of 6 feet, quarantining ourselves if we think we are ill or exposed to the virus. We are doing this not only to protect ourselves, but because we are loath to infect another person.</p>
  161. <div class="acm-ad ad-" id="acm-ad-tag-"></div>
  162. <p>I look forward to Gov. Walz’s press conferences. When Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm speaks, I feel a little extra pride, since she is a woman near my age. I feel comforted that we here in Minnesota are in good hands. Our leaders, and are fellow citizens, are demonstrating character.</p><div class="acm-ad ad-" id="acm-ad-tag-"></div>
  163. <p>To me, character is defined as trying to make the best decisions you can as you navigate your way in the world — then taking responsibility for these decisions. Don’t make excuses. Don’t lie to save face. If you make a decision you later come to regret, as is inevitable, admit it and move on. Learn from it.</p>
  164. <h4>Relief when Dr. Fauci takes the stage</h4>
  165. <p>Because I think he lacks character, President Trump frightens me. When he speaks, I don’t hear a man who is taking responsibility. I hear a man who is shirking it, while blaming others and spreading propaganda: The Chinese are to blame for the virus. A miracle drug is just around the corner. Obama is at fault for the slow response, but now the Trump administration has miraculously solved the problem so everything is going to be hunky dory. I breathe a sigh of relief when Trump cedes the stage to Dr. Anthony Fauci, whose words I trust. But I wonder how long Fauci can last.</p>
  166. <p><figure id="attachment_222087" class="m-content-media wp-caption alignright"><img class="size-full wp-image-222087" src=";strip=all" alt="photo of article author" width="200" height="302" srcset=";strip=all?w=200&amp;strip=all 200w,;strip=all?w=190&amp;strip=all 190w,;strip=all?w=50&amp;strip=all 50w,;strip=all?w=75&amp;strip=all 75w,;strip=all?w=86&amp;strip=all 86w" sizes="(max-width: 200px) 100vw, 200px" data-recalc-dims="1" /><figcaption class="m-content-caption wp-caption-text"><div class="a-media-meta a-media-caption">Martha Bordwell</div></figcaption></figure>In his private life, Donald Trump has a history of weaseling out of commitments, including to his wives and business partners. As president, it has been more of the same. He makes excuses, lies, pins the blame on anyone but himself: Women who accuse him of harassment are all liars; immigrants are criminals and rapists, Democrats are unpatriotic; Europeans don’t do their share. His interests lie more with the personal acquisition of wealth and power, not with the citizens who have entrusted him with leadership. Now he is talking about easing social distancing and other recommendations proffered by health professionals. Because I don’t trust him, I suspect he is more concerned about himself than about us. And when a leader can’t be trusted, things fall apart.</p>
  167. <h4>Wrong playbook</h4>
  168. <p>For the sake of argument (an argument I don’t personally believe), let us say that character didn’t matter so much when our economy was humming along. A great economy gave us a lot of leeway, allowing us to ignore looming pandemics, the alienation of allies, global warming, the demonization of an immigrant workforce likely to be needed in the future. But now we have a crisis on our hands. To lead us effectively, Trump would have to demonstrate qualities he has never demonstrated in his 73 years. He would have to throw away his playbook of attack and accuse. I doubt he knows how.</p>
  169. <p>So I am searching for other national leaders for comfort. I want to hear more from Joe Biden, whose personal history of loss suggests he will feel empathy for the displaced workers, the parents fearing for their children, the sick. I hope Dr. Fauci continues to have a platform. I like what I’m hearing from the governors of other states. I even feel comforted by Mike Pence’s sober tone, although I could do without his obsequiousness toward his boss. But I hope President Trump goes back to playing golf. He isn’t the leader we need right now. We Americans, who are trying so hard to make the right decisions in the midst of unthinkable uncertainty, deserve better.</p>
  170. <p><em>Martha Bordwell of Minneapolis writes about current events, family life, and travel. She </em><em>recently published a memoir, “Missing Mothers.”</em></p>
  171. <p><strong>WANT TO ADD YOUR VOICE?</strong></p>
  172. <p>If you’re interested in joining the discussion, add your voice to the Comment section below — or consider writing <a href="">a letter</a> or a longer-form <a href="">Community Voices</a> commentary. (For more information about Community Voices, see our <a href="">Submission Guidelines</a>.)</p>]]></content:encoded>
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  174. <slash:comments>0</slash:comments>
  175. </item>
  176. <item>
  177. <title>Caterer, inventor and philanthropist Oscar C. Howard developed Minnesota’s Meals-on-Wheels program</title>
  178. <link></link>
  179. <comments></comments>
  180. <pubDate>Mon, 30 Mar 2020 13:44:20 +0000</pubDate>
  181. <dc:creator><![CDATA[Tom Nehil]]></dc:creator>
  182. <category><![CDATA[Economy]]></category>
  183. <category><![CDATA[MNopedia]]></category>
  184. <category><![CDATA[History]]></category>
  186. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  187. <description><![CDATA[The trained chef moved from managing large industrial cafeterias to owning successful catering businesses.]]></description>
  188. <content:encoded><![CDATA[<p>To sum up the broad scope of Oscar C. Howard’s life, one could say simply that he fed Minnesota — literally. The trained chef moved from managing large industrial cafeterias to owning successful catering businesses, which culminated in the development of the Meals on Wheels program. Many others were nourished in a more figurative sense through Howard’s teaching, mentorship, preaching, and philanthropy. Along the way, he broke through countless racial barriers, both official and unspoken.</p>
  189. <p>After working to support himself through high school in his home state of Georgia, Howard began studies in commercial dietetics at Alabama’s Tuskegee Institute in 1937, only to be interrupted by the United States’ entry into World War II. Drafted by the Army, he served first as a military policeman in Harlem. Transferred to Governor’s Island, New York, and then to New Orleans’ Camp Plauche, Howard trained other soldiers in cooking and baking. He would later credit his famous Southern pecan pie recipe to his time in New Orleans.</p>
  190. <p>Following the war’s end, Howard completed his bachelor’s degree at Tuskegee, and the school hired him as an instructor and executive chef. Several personal and professional challenges followed this triumph, however, including the failure of his first catering business. He persevered, eventually accepting a position to open and run a large corporate cafeteria in Georgia. That experience led to an opportunity in Minnesota, where he would live for the remainder of his life.</p>
  191. <p>The Twin Cities Arsenal in New Brighton hired Howard in 1950 as it resumed operations to support the Korean conflict. He trained and managed a cafeteria staff of 100 to feed 15,000 workers over three shifts. In the evenings, he launched a small catering business, cooking pies and soup at home and delivering them from his own 1940 Chevrolet. With a reputation for excellent food and service, Howard’s Industrial Catering Company eventually grew into a full-time venture. Based in North Minneapolis, it served many local companies, including Reinhard Brothers, Coast to Coast, and Northwestern Bell, as well as at weddings and other social events. In order to facilitate the hot delivery of food to multiple facilities, Howard developed portable, insulated food shelves. He patented these devices in a range of sizes, and, as a side business, sold the carriers through kitchen-supply retailers and at industry trade shows.</p>
  192. <div class="acm-ad ad-" id="acm-ad-tag-"></div>
  193. <p>While establishing himself as a chef and business owner, Howard often faced discrimination. This ranged from being turned down for jobs for which he was clearly qualified, to an inability to receive bank loans or food supplies on credit to develop his business. Rather than focusing on these roadblocks, Howard worked tirelessly to chart his own course. He also understood the positive benefit of his presence within a variety of organizations, both on his merits as a successful businessman, and as an African American in previously all-white groups.</p><div class="acm-ad ad-" id="acm-ad-tag-"></div>
  194. <p><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><img class="float-right jetpack-lazy-image jetpack-lazy-image--handled" src=";strip=all&#038;strip=all" width="300" height="41" data-lazy-loaded="1" data-recalc-dims="1" /><noscript><img class="float-right jetpack-lazy-image" src=";strip=all#038;strip=all#038;strip=all#038;strip=all#038;strip=all#038;strip=all#038;strip=all#038;strip=all#038;strip=all#038;strip=all#038;strip=all#038;strip=all&#038;strip=all" width="300" height="41" data-recalc-dims="1" data-lazy-src=";strip=all#038;strip=all#038;strip=all#038;strip=all#038;strip=all#038;strip=all#038;strip=all#038;strip=all#038;strip=all#038;strip=all#038;is-pending-load=1#038;strip=all#038;strip=all&#038;strip=all" srcset="data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAIAAAAAAAP///yH5BAEAAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAIBRAA7" data-recalc-dims="1" data-recalc-dims="1" data-recalc-dims="1" data-recalc-dims="1" data-recalc-dims="1" data-recalc-dims="1" data-recalc-dims="1" data-recalc-dims="1" data-recalc-dims="1" data-recalc-dims="1"><noscript><img class="float-right" src=";strip=all#038;strip=all#038;strip=all#038;strip=all#038;strip=all#038;strip=all#038;strip=all#038;strip=all#038;strip=all#038;strip=all#038;strip=all#038;strip=all&#038;strip=all" width="300" height="41" data-recalc-dims="1" data-recalc-dims="1" data-recalc-dims="1" data-recalc-dims="1" data-recalc-dims="1" data-recalc-dims="1" data-recalc-dims="1" data-recalc-dims="1" data-recalc-dims="1" data-recalc-dims="1" data-recalc-dims="1" data-recalc-dims="1" /></noscript></a><br />
  195. The Tuskegee ethic of using one’s success to help others was manifested throughout Howard’s life. Despite the low profit margins, he signed a federal contract in 1970 to feed schoolchildren in low-income Minneapolis neighborhoods. The project appealed to him, recalling the poverty of his own youth. Using knowledge gained through that venture and over years of delivering meals to a variety of customers, he began providing a low-cost, nutritious, daily in-home meal to senior citizens. This grew into the Meals on Wheels program in Minnesota, which would later be replicated throughout the country. The endeavor shifted later from the business realm to management by counties and social service agencies.</p>
  196. <p>Howard frequently spoke to young people on themes of goals and responsibilities. He especially concerned himself with helping African Americans develop their skills and understand what it took to be successful. In 1971, he helped to found the Metropolitan Economic Development Association, which supported minority entrepreneurs with loans, education, and mentoring.</p>
  197. <p>After selling his catering businesses in the early 1980s, Howard turned his focus entirely to philanthropy and public service, serving on boards for the Bank of Minneapolis, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, the Dunwoody Institute, and others. A longtime member and deacon at Zion Baptist Church, following his ordination as a minister, he helped found Kwanzaa Community Presbyterian Church in North Minneapolis. He died in 2003, at the age of eighty-nine.</p>
  198. <p><em>For more information on this topic, check out <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">the original entry on MNopedia</a>.</em></p>]]></content:encoded>
  199. <wfw:commentRss></wfw:commentRss>
  200. <slash:comments>0</slash:comments>
  201. </item>
  202. <item>
  203. <title>The diets of most U.S. children remain nutritionally &#8216;poor,&#8217; despite improvements</title>
  204. <link></link>
  205. <comments></comments>
  206. <pubDate>Mon, 30 Mar 2020 13:41:03 +0000</pubDate>
  207. <dc:creator><![CDATA[Susan Perry]]></dc:creator>
  208. <category><![CDATA[Health]]></category>
  209. <category><![CDATA[Second Opinion]]></category>
  210. <category><![CDATA[adolescent health]]></category>
  211. <category><![CDATA[childhood nutrition]]></category>
  212. <category><![CDATA[Children's health]]></category>
  213. <category><![CDATA[dietary guidelines]]></category>
  215. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  216. <description><![CDATA[The study found that young people are drinking less sugary beverages and consuming slightly more fruit and whole grains than they were in 1999.]]></description>
  217. <content:encoded><![CDATA[<p>The diets of children and teens in the United States have improved over the past two decades, but the meals eaten by most children are still nutritionally poor, according to <a href="">a study</a> published online in the <a href="">Journal of the American Medical Association</a> (JAMA).</p>
  218. <p>The study found that young people are drinking less sugary beverages and consuming slightly more fruit and whole grains than they were in 1999. But they are still eating less than the recommended daily amount of fruit, vegetables and whole grains.</p>
  219. <p>“This is a classic ‘glass half full or half empty’ story,” said <a href="">Dr. Dariush Mozffarian</a>, the study’s senior author and dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, in <a href="">a released statement</a>. “Kids’ diets are definitely improving, and that’s very positive. On the other hand, most still have poor diets, and this is especially a problem for older youth and for kids whose households have less education, income or food security.”</p>
  220. <p>As background information in the study points out, the diets we follow in childhood shape our lifelong food preferences — and thus our health throughout adulthood. Unhealthful diets are a major contributor to a variety of chronic diseases, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke and several cancers.</p>
  221. <div class="acm-ad ad-" id="acm-ad-tag-"></div>
  222. <p>Poor-quality diets have also helped fuel the obesity epidemic of recent decades. Despite several national efforts aimed at improving the diets of U.S. children and teens, the obesity rate among young people has steadily climbed, although there are some signs that the rise may have slowed in recent years.</p><div class="acm-ad ad-" id="acm-ad-tag-"></div>
  223. <p>In 2016, 18.5 percent of American youth were obese — a rate that was <a href="">33 higher</a> than it was in 1999.</p>
  224. <h4><strong>How the study was done</strong></h4>
  225. <p>To get a better idea about the current quality of the diets of U.S. children and teens, Mozffarian and his co-authors analyzed <a href="">National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey</a> (NHANES) data collected between 1999 and 2016 for a representative sample of more than 31,000 young people aged 2 to 19. The survey asked participants to recall what they ate within the previous 24 hours. Parents and other caregivers provided the information for children under the age of 12, while older children filled out the survey themselves.</p>
  226. <p>The researchers scored each child’s diet either “poor,” “intermediate” or “ideal” based on the American Heart Association’s <a href="">“Healthy Diet Score”</a> and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s <a href="">“Healthy Eating Index.”</a> These assessment tools give highest scores to meals that contain plenty of fruits, vegetables, fish, whole grains, nuts, legumes and seeds, while cutting back on sugar, salt, saturated fat and processed meat.</p>
  227. <p>The data revealed that the diets of U.S. children and teens had improved during the study’s 18-year period. In 2016, 56 percent of young people had poor diets, compared to 77 percent in 1999.</p>
  228. <p>Most of those improvements were from poor diets to intermediate ones. By 2016, only 0.25 percent of American children had an ideal diet, although that was up from 0.07 percent in 1999.</p>
  229. <p>Teens had the worst diets. In 2016, 67 percent of them had poor diets, compared to 53 percent of children aged 6 to 11 years and 40 percent of children aged 5 years and under.</p>
  230. <p>The study also found troubling disparities between different income groups. By the end of the study, 65 percent of children in families with the lowest annual household income (about $34,000 or less for a family of four) had poor diets, compared to 47 percent of children in families with the highest annual household income (about $78,000 or more).</p>
  231. <div class="acm-ad ad-" id="acm-ad-tag-"></div>
  232. <p>Children whose low-income families participated in two government programs that provide food assistance — the <a href="">Supplemental Nutrition Assistant Program</a> (SNAP) or the <a href="">Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children</a> (WIC) — were, however, less likely to have poor diets than children in low-income families who didn’t receive that assistance.</p>
  233. <h4><strong>Ups and downs</strong></h4>
  234. <p>The biggest improvement in diets was a decline in the amount of sugary drinks consumed. In 2016, children drank eight fewer ounces of sugar-sweetened beverages each day, on average, than they did in 1999. That’s the equivalent of about eight fewer teaspoons of added sugar.</p>
  235. <p>“Overall, added sugar intake among American children was reduced by a third, largely because sugary beverages were cut in half,” says <a href="">Junxiu Liu</a>, the study’s lead author and a postdoctoral scholar at Tufts University, in <a href="">a released statement</a>.</p><div class="acm-ad ad-" id="acm-ad-tag-"></div>
  236. <p>“But there was little reduction in added sugars consumed from foods, and by 2016, American kids were still eating about 18 teaspoons or about 71.4 grams of added sugar each day — equivalent to one out of every seven calories,” she adds. “That’s much too high.”</p>
  237. <p>Smaller improvements were found in two other nutritional categories. In 2016, young people averaged a half serving more of whole grains (about half a slice of whole grain bread) and one-fifth serving more of whole fruit (about seven grapes) than in 1999.</p>
  238. <p>In several categories, the young people remained far below general nutritional recommendations. Most notably, by 2016, children and teens were consuming only about 1.8 daily servings of fruits and vegetables — significantly below the recommended 4.5 servings. And they were also eating only one daily serving of whole grains — a third less than the recommended three servings.</p>
  239. <h4><strong>Limitations and implications</strong></h4>
  240. <p>This study relies on self-reports of the foods people are eating, including the self-reports of teenagers, which, of course, can be unreliable. Parents and teenagers may have over-reported or under-reported certain foods.</p>
  241. <p>Still, the findings give us the best snapshot we have of the current nutritional quality of the foods our children and teenagers are eating. Unfortunately, that quality remains poor for a majority of young people.</p>
  242. <div class="acm-ad ad-" id="acm-ad-tag-"></div>
  243. <p>“Our findings of slowly improving, yet still poor, diets in U.S. children are consistent with the slowing of rises in childhood obesity but not any reversal,” says Mozaffarian. “Understanding these updated trends in diet quality is crucial to informing priorities to help improve the eating habits and long-term health of all of America’s youth.”</p>
  244. <p>“Food is the number one cause of chronic illness and death in our country, and these results affect our children — our future,” he adds.</p>
  245. <p><strong>FMI:</strong>  You’ll find an abstract of the study <a href="">on JAMA’s website</a>, but the full paper is behind a paywall.</p>]]></content:encoded>
  246. <wfw:commentRss></wfw:commentRss>
  247. <slash:comments>0</slash:comments>
  248. </item>
  249. <item>
  250. <title>Sobering moment: How is COVID-19 impacting Minnesota’s recovery community?</title>
  251. <link></link>
  252. <comments></comments>
  253. <pubDate>Mon, 30 Mar 2020 13:39:23 +0000</pubDate>
  254. <dc:creator><![CDATA[Susan Albright]]></dc:creator>
  255. <category><![CDATA[Health]]></category>
  256. <category><![CDATA[Mental Health & Addiction]]></category>
  257. <category><![CDATA[addiction recovery]]></category>
  258. <category><![CDATA[COVID-19]]></category>
  260. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  261. <description><![CDATA[Statewide restrictions placed on the number of people who can gather together have meant that Minnesota’s many recovery programs have had to rethink the way they work.]]></description>
  262. <content:encoded><![CDATA[<p>No matter the weather, the sweeping porch at the <a href="">Uptown Club</a>, a majestic brick mansion on the corner of Hamline and Summit Avenues in St. Paul, is usually filled with people. A popular AA recovery club where individuals facing the disease of addiction go for meetings, community and support, the building is now shuttered until further notice, thanks to COVID-19. The porch stands empty, with nothing but the lingering smell of cigarettes to remind you that anyone was ever there at all.</p>
  263. <p>Social isolation, while an important tool in fighting a pandemic, has been rough on the Minnesota’s recovery movement. A central feature of most addiction treatment programs is community, and for decades, <em>community </em>has meant face-to-face <a href="">meetings</a>, often in large groups.</p>
  264. <p>Statewide restrictions placed on the number of people who can gather together have meant that Minnesota’s many recovery programs have had to rethink the way they work.</p>
  265. <div class="acm-ad ad-" id="acm-ad-tag-"></div>
  266. <p>William Cope Moyers, <a href="">Hazelden Betty Ford</a> VP of public affairs and community relations, explained that because addiction is an illness of isolation, community — like the Uptown Club meetings — is an important antidote that can help keep a person from relapsing into substance use. In an age of <a href="">shelter-in-place</a> and social distancing, he and other leaders in the state’s addiction recovery community are planning as they go, working to create options that can help keep people healthy and sober.</p><div class="acm-ad ad-" id="acm-ad-tag-"></div>
  267. <p>“We all know that community is about engagement — one alcoholic talking to another, one group interacting with each other and all those other things that are about smashing the silence and the secrecy of this illness,” Moyers said. “In this time, with this pandemic, we all know that community is being redefined and how we as people in recovery engage our community is not the way we would’ve done it even two weeks ago.”</p>
  268. <p><figure id="attachment_185583" class="m-content-media wp-caption alignright"><img class="size-full wp-image-185583" src=";strip=all" alt="" width="225" height="304" srcset=";strip=all?w=225&amp;strip=all 225w,;strip=all?w=190&amp;strip=all 190w,;strip=all?w=50&amp;strip=all 50w,;strip=all?w=75&amp;strip=all 75w,;strip=all?w=200&amp;strip=all 200w,;strip=all?w=96&amp;strip=all 96w" sizes="(max-width: 225px) 100vw, 225px" data-recalc-dims="1" /><figcaption class="m-content-caption wp-caption-text"><div class="a-media-meta a-media-caption">William Cope Moyers</div></figcaption></figure>Because addiction and mental illness are so closely intertwined, Moyers added that the stressful times we are living in can be particularly triggering for people struggling with addiction.</p>
  269. <p>“This is a time that is unprecedented in recovery, in the field of addiction and mental illness,” he said. “It is a time where people are being asked to be counterintuitive around the way we typically recover — and yet it is also a time where we must continue to take care of ourselves, despite the uncertainties, the stresses and the pain of it all.”</p>
  270. <p>While no one is immune to the <a href="">psychological stress of COVID-19</a>, Moyers continued, people with substance use disorder (SUD) are particularly vulnerable: “Those of us who have chronic illnesses like substance abuse and mental illness, we need to do what we need to do to take care of ourselves.”</p>
  271. <p>In other times of national crisis, like the 9/11 terrorist attacks, people with addiction were able to gather together in community to find support, Moyers said. But this is different.</p>
  272. <p>“This is not like 9/11, because back then we all rushed off to our recovery meetings or churches or yoga or sat on our front porches and talked to our loved ones about that horrible moment. This is not that. it is fundamentally different because we as a society can’t come together and physically hold on to each other. Yet somehow we must learn how to hold on to each other differently.”</p>
  273. <h4><strong>‘We have to continue helping people to be sober’</strong></h4>
  274. <p>While he is as concerned about the spread of COVID-19 as anyone, John Curtiss, president/CEO of <a href="">The Retreat</a>, a comprehensive addiction recovery program based in Wayzata, believes that even with the threat of a pandemic hanging over their heads, he and his colleagues can’t step away from their work. Too many lives hang in the balance.</p>
  275. <div class="acm-ad ad-" id="acm-ad-tag-"></div>
  276. <p>“Addiction is still one of the largest killers in our country,” Curtiss said. “We have to continue helping people to be sober and help them to stay on the right side of this problem or they are going to end up overloading our emergency departments, especially when those departments might be needed for coronavirus patients.”</p>
  277. <p>Earlier in the month Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz ordered the closure of schools, and asked that non-essential employees work from home when possible. Essential services, including health care, child care and residential care facilities, were allowed to stay open.</p><div class="acm-ad ad-" id="acm-ad-tag-"></div>
  278. <p><figure id="attachment_602804" class="m-content-media wp-caption alignleft"><img class="size-full wp-image-602804" src=";strip=all" alt="John Curtiss" width="225" height="306" srcset=";strip=all?w=225&amp;strip=all 225w,;strip=all?w=190&amp;strip=all 190w,;strip=all?w=50&amp;strip=all 50w,;strip=all?w=75&amp;strip=all 75w,;strip=all?w=200&amp;strip=all 200w,;strip=all?w=96&amp;strip=all 96w" sizes="(max-width: 225px) 100vw, 225px" data-recalc-dims="1" /><figcaption class="m-content-caption wp-caption-text"><div class="a-media-meta a-media-caption">John Curtiss</div></figcaption></figure>This means that the state’s residential treatment programs are considered essential, and they can keep operating, after making changes to meet <a href="">CDC infection-reduction</a> criteria. Last week’s <a href="">“stay-at-home” order</a> [PDF] further expanded statewide rules and requirements around social isolation, but continued to allow for the operation of residential addiction treatment facilities.</p>
  279. <p>Though some might consider inpatient addiction treatment optional, like elective surgery, recovery advocates including Curtiss and Moyers explain that for many people in the throes of addiction, access to inpatient treatment is a matter of life or death.</p>
  280. <p>Even though COVID-19 is rightly claiming our collective attention, Moyers said, it is important to remember that addiction remains a deadly epidemic of its own. “In 2020, 70,000 people in America will die of accidental overdoses. Another 88,000 people will die from alcohol-related issues. The pandemic of coronavirus is real, but so is the <a href="">epidemic of addiction</a> and mental illness. We cannot afford to pay attention to one at the expense of another.”</p>
  281. <p>And though, unlike a virus, addiction isn’t contagious, an untreated alcoholic or drug addict can easily cause harm to others, he said. “A drunk driver is not only dangerous to her or himself. They are also dangerous to everyone else on the road.”</p>
  282. <p>Greg Jones, director of substance use disorder at <a href="">Turning Point</a>, a <a href="">culturally specific addiction treatment center</a> based in Minneapolis, said that for many of his organization’s clients, inpatient addiction treatment is a last-ditch effort. That’s why it is important that as many as possible are able to complete their residential programs, even in the face of pandemic.</p>
  283. <p>“When people come in for treatment, they are at the end of their rope,” Jones said. “If something comes up and they are abandoned, that could be really bad.” While Turning Point has decided to not take any new clients for the time being, the program will continue to provide care and treatment for those still enrolled.</p>
  284. <p>“We will stay open,” Jones said. “It’s important to provide care for the people that are here now.”</p>
  285. <div class="acm-ad ad-" id="acm-ad-tag-"></div>
  286. <p>Walz&#8217;s stay at home order means that families will likely be seeing more of each other than usual. Curtiss said he believes that this close proximity will reveal addiction problems that in normal life could usually be kept hidden.</p>
  287. <p>“Families now are all together,” he said. “Some of them are seeing their loved one in full force with their addiction.” That makes it all the more important to get the message out that addiction treatment options are still available in Minnesota. “We do want people to know that we are still there to help people if someone needs to get out of the burning house. We have a safe environment for them to go to.”</p>
  288. <p><figure id="attachment_851364" class="m-content-media wp-caption alignright"><img class="size-full wp-image-851364" src=";strip=all" alt="Greg Jones" width="225" height="289" srcset=";strip=all?w=225&amp;strip=all 225w,;strip=all?w=190&amp;strip=all 190w,;strip=all?w=50&amp;strip=all 50w,;strip=all?w=75&amp;strip=all 75w,;strip=all?w=200&amp;strip=all 200w,;strip=all?w=101&amp;strip=all 101w" sizes="(max-width: 225px) 100vw, 225px" data-recalc-dims="1" /><figcaption class="m-content-caption wp-caption-text"><div class="a-media-meta a-media-caption">Greg Jones</div></figcaption></figure>Curtiss added he sees signs that COVID-related stress is leading some in the state to increase their dependence on addictive substances.</p><div class="acm-ad ad-" id="acm-ad-tag-"></div>
  289. <p>“There are a lot of people at home drinking themselves into oblivion,” he said. “When I drive by 394 and Wayzata Boulevard, the only store open is a liquor store. Their parking lot is packed. I’m thinking that eventually a lot of those cars are going to end up in our parking lot.”</p>
  290. <p>Because the response to the pandemic is changing so rapidly, Curtiss said that he won’t even try to predict the next big change that’s on the horizon. For now, he said, The Retreat’s residential offerings will go on as usual, with capacity reduced in order to ensure that all guests have a private room. His long history of adhering to 12-step principles informs his approach going forward.</p>
  291. <p>“This is a <a href="">one-day-at-a-time</a> thing,” Curtiss said. “I’m doing my best to stay comfortable with that. Every day we’re making calls about what to do and how to do it, but for now we are still serving those in need.”</p>
  292. <p>What happens in the next few weeks will be critical to Hazelden Betty Ford’s mission and margin for the remainder of the year, Moyers said. Though he has concerns about how this crisis will impact the viability of his and other recovery programs, his colleagues give him reason to feel hopeful.</p>
  293. <p>“I am a <a href="">long-time alum,</a> a donor and a colleague,” Moyers said, “and I can say, professionally and personally, that what our employees do every day now is nothing short of inspiring and a reflection on what’s required in these unprecedented, unpredictable times.”</p>
  294. <h4><strong>Impact on inpatient treatment</strong></h4>
  295. <p>While many inpatient treatment programs remain open and continue to accept new patients, some are seeing a downturn in their numbers that can be chalked up to COVID fears.</p>
  296. <p>At Hazelden Betty Ford in Center City, Moyers said, “We are seeing softening in the census. We are seeing some signs that people are not willing or ready or able to travel to residential treatment right now. It’s not a precipitous drop like it was after 9-11, when the airlines stopped flying. It is not cataclysmic, but it is a steady softening in our residential treatment at most of our sites.”</p>
  297. <p>Still, some Hazelden Betty Ford inpatient programs remain fully occupied.</p>
  298. <p>“In Oregon,” Moyers added, “we have more patients than we’re budgeted for. We’re full. The reason for that is most of our patients that get residential treatment in Oregon are from Oregon. They can still get there in their cars.”</p>
  299. <p>Turning Point’s census is also lower than normal. Jones said that reality makes it easier for the program to keep participants safe. “When there aren’t as many clients, it makes it a lot easier to practice social distancing,” he said.</p>
  300. <p>The building is also maintaining a strict cleaning policy, Jones said: “We have a guy who comes in every hour on the hour and sanitizes the building. The rails and doorknobs are wiped down and sprayed with disinfectant.”</p>
  301. <p>There are also hand-sanitizing stations set up all over the building. “We don’t let people go in to the group rooms without washing their hands and sanitizing,” Jones said. “If they go on a break, the whole group will sanitize before they come back.” Residents and workers also wear gloves, and with the stay-home order, staff will be reduced to essential employees only, including workers who provide 24-hour monitoring for clients.</p>
  302. <p>At Hazelden Betty Ford, anyone entering the buildings has their temperature taken.</p>
  303. <p>“We are a medical facility,” Moyers said. “So we are taking the proper precautions, including taking the temperature of anyone who comes on our campus. That includes person filling the pop machine, the doctors, all patients, any other visitors.”</p>
  304. <p>At The Retreat, residents, as well as everyone entering the facility, also get regular temperature checks. And with non-essential staff working from home, they’ve had no problem meeting recommended spacing requirements.</p>
  305. <p>In normal times, The Retreat has a stand-alone 18-bed retreat center, where family members can stay overnight for special programming. These programs have been temporarily suspended, so the building has been designated as a place that can hold any guests who experience COVID symptoms.</p>
  306. <p>“We are closely coordinating with the CDC and Minnesota Department of Health about the right procedures,” Curtiss said, “depending on the severity of the symptoms.”</p>
  307. <p>Census in The Retreat’s residential side has shifted, Curtiss said: “The women’s side has gone up a bit. The men’s side is a little down. We have capacity for 41 in the men’s side, but we’re in the mid-20s right now. Frankly, I’m happy about that because it allows me to manage a smaller population in terms of distancing and safety.”</p>
  308. <p>For now, Curtiss is still coming into work each day. “I have to be there,” he said. “The guests would not feel as safe if the key staff were not present. We have identified who the key staff are. And if any staff member is nervous about coming in, or has a family member that is not feeling well or has recently traveled, we say, ‘Don’t come in. Stay away.’”</p>
  309. <h4><strong>Socially distant alternatives</strong></h4>
  310. <p>Now, more than ever, people living with SUD need to come together. Moyers said. He’s encouraged to see the range of virtual recovery meeting options that are popping up everywhere, like hopeful spring buds in a thawing garden plot.</p>
  311. <p>“People still need to recover,” he said. “Online meetings are proliferating like crazy. It’s heartening to see it.” While he thinks that virtual meetings will never replace powerful face-to-face contact, he believes it’s a good option that many will embrace in the coming days.</p>
  312. <p>In an unintended confluence of timing, earlier this month Hazelden Betty Ford announced that it would be making its intensive outpatient programming available in an online format. The program, called <a href="">RecoveryGo</a>, has been in the works for “months,” Moyers said. The program, also known as Virtual Intensive Outpatient (VIOP), will be available in the seven states where Hazelden Betty Ford’s counselors are licensed to practice.</p>
  313. <p>“We’ve been planning this for a long time,” Moyers said. “It cost us a lot of money, a lot of intellectual capital. We didn’t do it for a moment like this, but it is serendipitous. We can now provide services to people in their living rooms in Minneapolis, just like we can at their cabins in Duluth.”</p>
  314. <p>While Moyers stressed that VIOP wasn’t designed to replace in-person treatment options, he said, “This is just another way to harness the power of technology, the power of social media, to provide licensed clinical care.”</p>
  315. <p>One plus of RecoveryGo is that it can make intensive outpatient treatment available for people who otherwise couldn’t afford the program.</p>
  316. <p>“Not everybody can take time off work or reschedule their lives to go to outpatient treatment in St. Paul,” Moyers said. “This is another way to meet people where they are at — virtually and literally.”</p>
  317. <p>At The Retreat, staff has been working hard to set up large-screen TVs to accommodate virtual talks from visitors and volunteers who can no longer come to the facility.</p>
  318. <p>“We’ll still be hearing from a lot of interesting people,” Curtis said. “We’re keeping the curriculum robust.”</p>
  319. <p>And Retreat clients also have options for online meetings. Several years ago the program developed <a href=""></a>, virtual AA and <a href="">Al-Anon</a> meetings that are offered every day throughout the day.</p>
  320. <p>Even with all the planning and innovation that is going into keeping recovery programs healthy in the age of COVID, Moyers admitted that for a time, at least, everything will feel different. “Recovery has to adapt to reality,” he said, “just like everything else. Nothing is the same. It doesn’t mean it has gone away. It is just different.”</p>
  321. <p>While everyday life will change — at least for now — Moyers is convinced that in-person AA meetings will survive this pandemic. When the crisis lifts, he said, they’ll re-emerge, stronger than ever.</p>
  322. <p>“AA has been around since 1935, and wars have come and locusts have come. Those meetings will remain. They’ll come back. I think we will have ignited a new generation with these new virtual options, but the bread and butter will still be here. Just for now, anyway, the bread and butter is going to taste a little different.”</p>]]></content:encoded>
  323. <wfw:commentRss></wfw:commentRss>
  324. <slash:comments>0</slash:comments>
  325. </item>
  326. <item>
  327. <title>Trump announces extension of social distancing guidelines</title>
  328. <link></link>
  329. <comments></comments>
  330. <pubDate>Mon, 30 Mar 2020 10:48:36 +0000</pubDate>
  331. <dc:creator><![CDATA[Brian Lambert]]></dc:creator>
  332. <category><![CDATA[The Glean]]></category>
  334. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  335. <description><![CDATA[Plus: Edina to crack down on stay-at-home order after reports of large gatherings; storm knocks out power for thousands in central and northeast Minnesota; North Dakota reports first death from coronavirus; and more.]]></description>
  336. <content:encoded><![CDATA[<figure id="attachment_652257" class="m-content-media wp-caption aligncenter"><img class="size-full wp-image-652257" src=";strip=all" alt="President Donald Trump" width="640" height="427" srcset=";strip=all?w=640&amp;strip=all 640w,;strip=all?w=190&amp;strip=all 190w,;strip=all?w=400&amp;strip=all 400w,;strip=all?w=50&amp;strip=all 50w,;strip=all?w=75&amp;strip=all 75w,;strip=all?w=200&amp;strip=all 200w,;strip=all?w=130&amp;strip=all 130w" sizes="(max-width: 640px) 100vw, 640px" data-recalc-dims="1" /><figcaption class="m-content-caption wp-caption-text"><div class="a-media-meta a-media-credit">REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst</div><div class="a-media-meta a-media-caption">President Donald Trump</div></figcaption></figure>
  337. <p class="css-exrw3m evys1bk0"><a href="">In The New York Times, Michael D. Shear writes</a>: “<strong>President Trump retreated Sunday from his desire to relax coronavirus guidelines by Easter</strong>, announcing instead that all Americans must continue to avoid nonessential travel, going to work, eating at bars and restaurants, or gathering in groups of more than 10 for at least another month and perhaps until June. … The president finally appeared on Sunday to acknowledge the possibility of deaths on a large scale and back down from weeks of insisting that the threat from the virus might be overblown.”</p>
  338. <p class="Text_Body"><a href="">The Star Tribune&#8217;s Mara Klecker reports:</a> “<strong>Starting Monday at 8 a.m., group activities not in compliance with physical and social distancing will not be allowed in Edina</strong>. The city received many complaints and reports of large group gatherings and close-contact ballgames over the weekend, said City Manager Scott Neal. &#8216;We had hoped we would see 100 percent compliance by residents and visitors with the Governor’s ‘Stay at Home’ order,'&#8221; Neal said. &#8216;This is not optional. Failure of Minnesotans to comply with this order will result in the metro area reaching peak caseload sooner than medical facilities are able to handle,&#8217; he said. &#8216;We all need to do our part.&#8217;”</p>
  339. <p><a href="">In the Pioneer Press, Ruben Rosario writes</a>: “<strong>Among Minnesotans battling the deadly virus is internationally renowned Cuban jazz pianist Ignacio &#8216;Nachito&#8217; Herrera.</strong> The White Bear Lake resident and Dakota jazz club regular was rushed to the emergency room Saturday by family members after struggling with flu-like symptoms. He was diagnosed with the novel virus and remains in intensive care at a Twin Cities area hospital. … In 2012, he won the American Heritage Award from the American Immigration Council, the second Latin musician to do so since Carlos Santana. He has also performed with local Twin Cities symphonies and taught local youth orchestra and musical groups.”</p>
  340. <p><a href="">MPR&#8217;s Andrew Krueger reports</a>: “<strong>A late-season winter storm brought heavy snow to parts of central and northeast Minnesota late Saturday and early Sunday</strong>, <strong>knocking out power to more than 14,000 homes and businesses</strong>. Rain and thunderstorms switched over to snow overnight from central Minnesota northeast into the Arrowhead region. … As of midday Sunday, Lake Country Power and Minnesota Power were reporting a combined total of more than 14,000 customers without power, with the largest outages in the Duluth, Cloquet and Moose Lake areas. Minnesota … Crews worked throughout the day to restore power, with the total number of affected customers down to about 8,000 by 7 p.m. Lake Country Power reported that some of the outages may last into Monday.”</p><div class="acm-ad ad-" id="acm-ad-tag-"></div>
  341. <p>For the <a href="">Forum News Service, April Baumgartner says</a>, “<strong>The first person who died in North Dakota from coronavirus was a Navy veteran and educator</strong> who declined to be put on a ventilator, possibly to save it for another patient, his niece said Saturday. Roger Lehne, 93, died Thursday at the Veterans Affairs Hospital in Fargo due to complications from the illness, according to a death notice published Saturday. … The North Dakota Department of Health announced Saturday there are 94 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the state. Lehne is the only person who has died in North Dakota after contracting the illness.”</p>
  342. <p>The Star Tribune&#8217;s <a href="">Liz Navratil reports</a>, “Three times a week, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey dials into a private Skype meeting with other city leaders to discuss their response to the coronavirus pandemic. Designed for swift action, <strong>the emergency policy group includes City Council President Lisa Bender and Vice President Andrea Jenkins, eight city department heads and some staff members.</strong> The<a href=""> emergency declaration</a> put into place March 16 allows Frey to pass temporary regulations and authorize quick purchases without having to go through the normal City Council approval process, as long as those actions are meant to slow the spread of coronavirus.”</p>
  343. <p>In the Duluth News Tribune, <a href="">Tom Olsen says</a>, “<strong>The COVID-19 pandemic has forced the courts to take steps that are unprecedented in modern history</strong>: postponing nearly all cases, temporarily shutting down public service centers and holding many hearings without any of the participants in the same room. … The situation has forced criminal justice agencies to dramatically alter long-standing practices as the wheels of justice temporarily grind to a halt for most defendants. Most notably, authorities have been working together to significantly reduce the number of people who remain jailed while awaiting future court dates, particularly for nonviolent offenses.”</p>
  344. <div class="acm-ad ad-" id="acm-ad-tag-"></div>
  345. <p>In the Star Tribune, <a href="">Neal St. Anthony writes</a>, “the owners of many small businesses like [Anna] Tsantir have been forced into making hard choices they didn’t see coming. Tsantir, who three years ago was the Small Business Administration’s Women-Owned Business of the Year, last week laid off more than 120 valued employees and contractors. The business nose-dived when, spooked by the virus, <strong>Two Bettys cleaners didn’t want to visit customers’ homes — and customers also wanted to reduce visitors.</strong>”</p>
  346. <p>This <a href="">at WCCO-TV:</a> “<strong>Cold Front, which is located in St. Paul’s Macalester-Groveland neighborhood, sold pints of ice cream Sunday to raise money to support people recovering from addiction.</strong> The store had 400 pints left in stock since closing earlier in the month for the COVID-19 outbreak. Owner George Doyle, who has been sober 15 years, wanted to sell the ice cream and give back to a group he knows needs help and connection during this time of isolation. So he partnered with Minnesota Recovery Connection, and gave 100% of the proceeds to the organization.”</p>
  347. <p>At MPR, <a href="">Emily Bright says</a>, “The coronavirus outbreak brought the Girl Scout cookie-selling season to a screeching halt. <strong>Left with unsold inventory, some Minnesota Girl Scouts are now inviting people to donate those cookies to first responders and community groups.</strong> ‘There are thousands of girls who are kind of learning how to pivot when a small business is impacted’, said Tish Bolger, CEO of the Girl Scouts Council of Minnesota and Wisconsin River Valleys. ‘We have a ton of inventory, and we have launched Cookies for a Cause.’&#8221;</p>
  348. <p>Says <a href="">Harsh Chauhan for CCN</a>, “<strong>The novel coronavirus outbreak may have popped the U.S. housing bubble</strong> because of its economic fallout. Buyers are fleeing the market even though mortgage rates have sunk to record lows, and this could set off the next housing crisis. Real estate marketplace Zillow has<a href=""> suspended purchasing new homes</a> on account of the COVID-19 outbreak. The company directly purchases homes from sellers in 24 markets through its Zillow Offers business arm. It resells them after making repairs.”</p>]]></content:encoded>
  349. <wfw:commentRss></wfw:commentRss>
  350. <slash:comments>1</slash:comments>
  351. </item>
  352. <item>
  353. <title>The daily coronavirus update: Four more deaths; more cases in long-term care facilities</title>
  354. <link></link>
  355. <comments></comments>
  356. <pubDate>Sun, 29 Mar 2020 21:24:29 +0000</pubDate>
  357. <dc:creator><![CDATA[Greta Kaul]]></dc:creator>
  358. <category><![CDATA[Health]]></category>
  360. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  361. <description><![CDATA[A total of 25 congregate living facilities in Minnesota have had outbreaks of COVID-19, meaning either a staff member or a resident has tested positive. That’s up from 20 Saturday.]]></description>
  362. <content:encoded><![CDATA[<p><i>For the foreseeable future, MinnPost will be providing daily updates on coronavirus in Minnesota, published following the press phone call conducted by the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) with Gov. Tim Walz and administration officials each afternoon. (Since it’s the weekend, just MDH today).</i></p>
  363. <p><b>Here are the latest updates from March 29, 2020:</b></p>
  364. <ul>
  365. <li><a href="#cases">503 total cases, 9 deaths</a></li>
  366. <li><a href="#congregate">More cases in congregate living</a></li>
  367. <li><a href="#stayhome">Is ‘stay-at-home’ helping?</a></li>
  368. </ul>
  369. <div class="acm-ad ad-" id="acm-ad-tag-"></div>
  370. <h4 id="cases">503 total cases, 9 deaths</h4>
  371. <p>The Minnesota Department of Health reported four additional COVID-19 deaths in Minnesota on Sunday, for a total of nine.</p>
  372. <p>Three of the people whose deaths were reported Sunday were Hennepin County residents of long-term care facilities (two were in the same facility). One was a Martin County resident who was not a resident of a long-term care facility.</p><div class="acm-ad ad-" id="acm-ad-tag-"></div>
  373. <p>In terms of ages, three of the deceased were in their eighties or nineties, and the other was in their fifties with several underlying health conditions, said Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm.</p>
  374. <p>MDH reported 503 confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of Sunday — an increase of 62 since Saturday. Because of lack of testing capacity, the true number of cases is likely significantly higher.</p>
  375. <p>Of the 503 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Minnesota, 75 have required hospitalization. 39 Minnesotans are hospitalized as of Sunday, with 16 in intensive care.</p>
  376. <p>252 Minnesotans who tested positive for the virus no longer need to be isolated, which means they’re considered to be recovered.</p>
  377. <h4 id="congregate">More cases in congregate living</h4>
  378. <p>Malcolm said a total of 25 congregate living facilities in Minnesota have had outbreaks of COVID-19, meaning either a staff member or a resident has tested positive. That’s up from 20 Saturday.</p>
  379. <div class="acm-ad ad-" id="acm-ad-tag-"></div>
  380. <p>Congregate living is a term that includes long-term care as well as prisons, jails and homeless shelters, places that especially concern public health officials because people tend to be at higher risk of severe complications from the virus and live close to one another, meaning the virus could spread quickly.</p>
  381. <p>There are 32 cases in such facilities, 11 in health care workers and 21 in residents. As of Sunday: 18 facilities had one case; four had two cases and three had more than two cases. One facility had four cases.</p>
  382. <p>A reporter asked Malcolm on the press briefing call whether families with loved ones in long-term care should consider taking them out of those facilities.</p>
  383. <p><figure id="attachment_836320" class="m-content-media wp-caption alignright"><img class="size-full wp-image-836320" src=";strip=all" alt="Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm" width="225" height="265" srcset=";strip=all?w=225&amp;strip=all 225w,;strip=all?w=190&amp;strip=all 190w,;strip=all?w=50&amp;strip=all 50w,;strip=all?w=75&amp;strip=all 75w,;strip=all?w=200&amp;strip=all 200w,;strip=all?w=110&amp;strip=all 110w" sizes="(max-width: 225px) 100vw, 225px" data-recalc-dims="1" /><figcaption class="m-content-caption wp-caption-text"><div class="a-media-meta a-media-credit">MinnPost photo by Greta Kaul</div><div class="a-media-meta a-media-caption">Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm</div></figcaption></figure>She said she understands that many families might be asking themselves that question, but MDH is not in a position to dictate what families do.</p>
  384. <p>“We believe that folks in long-term care are working really hard to make those environments as safe as possible,” she said. “I just would have to defer that to private family decisions and consultations with individual care facilities.”</p><div class="acm-ad ad-" id="acm-ad-tag-"></div>
  385. <p><a href="">As we outlined last week</a>: when a case is identified in a congregate living setting, an MDH epidemiology team contacts it immediately, helps review potential exposures, identifies potential staff or health care exposures and makes recommendations to limit transmission.</p>
  386. <p>An infection prevention team does a virtual assessment of facilities’ infection control practices and advises them on best practices. A nurse case manager is assigned to the facility and helps address questions about infection prevention and expedite protective equipment requests.</p>
  387. <p>MDH also provides facilities with a template of a letter to notify residents and families of the COVID-19 case and with weekly shipments of masks and face shields.</p>
  388. <h4 id="stayhome">Is ‘stay-at-home’ helping?</h4>
  389. <p>It’s too early to tell, but Malcolm says they’re hoping to get some indication of whether social distancing and Gov. Tim Walz’s “stay-at-home” order have made a difference in a week to 10 days.</p>
  390. <p>“That&#8217;s our hope that as we look at kind of the pattern over the last couple of weeks versus the pattern that’s happening in other places, whether we can discern that we’re on the same trajectory or a slightly different one,” she said.</p>
  391. <p>Of course, she added, different states have been using different policies and have other conditions that could help explain differences in virus spread, too.</p>
  392. <div class="acm-ad ad-" id="acm-ad-tag-"></div>
  393. <h4>This weekend on MinnPost:</h4>
  394. <ul>
  395. <li>Asking yourself “How long has this been going on?” <a href="">Answers</a>, via News Editor Tom Nehil</li>
  396. <li>See the latest COVID-19 numbers on MinnPost’s<a href=""> dashboard</a>.</li>
  397. <li>“Cremate and wait”: Jim Walsh on how Minnesota <a href="">funeral homes are dealing with COVID-19</a></li>
  398. </ul>
  399. <h4>Reading around the web:</h4>
  400. <ul>
  401. <li>On the history (and mystery) of Purell, from <a href="">the Washington Post</a></li>
  402. <li>On failed efforts to build a new fleet of cheaper ventilators for the U.S. strategic stockpile, <a href="">via the New York Times </a></li>
  403. </ul>
  404. <p>For more information, visit <a href="">MDH’s coronavirus website</a>.</p>
  405. <p>Or call its COVID-19 health questions hotline, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.: 651-201-3920</p>]]></content:encoded>
  406. <wfw:commentRss></wfw:commentRss>
  407. <slash:comments>1</slash:comments>
  408. </item>
  409. <item>
  410. <title>The daily coronavirus update: Fifth Minnesotan dies from COVID-19; Walz signs relief bill</title>
  411. <link></link>
  412. <comments></comments>
  413. <pubDate>Sat, 28 Mar 2020 20:46:04 +0000</pubDate>
  414. <dc:creator><![CDATA[Greta Kaul]]></dc:creator>
  415. <category><![CDATA[Health]]></category>
  416. <category><![CDATA[COVID-19]]></category>
  418. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  419. <description><![CDATA[The total number of confirmed cases in the state rose to 441.]]></description>
  420. <content:encoded><![CDATA[<p><i>For the foreseeable future, MinnPost will be providing daily updates on coronavirus in Minnesota, published following the press phone call conducted by the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) with Gov. Tim Walz and administration officials each afternoon. (Since it’s the weekend, just MDH today).</i></p>
  421. <p><b>Here are the latest updates from March 28, 2020:</b></p>
  422. <ul>
  423. <li><a href="#cases">441 cases, 5 deaths</a></li>
  424. <li><a href="#relief">Walz signs $330 million COVID-19 relief bill</a></li>
  425. <li><a href="#tracing">MDH still pursuing tracing of contacts of positive cases</a></li>
  426. <li><a href="#hanks">Good news: Tom Hanks is home</a></li>
  427. </ul>
  428. <div class="acm-ad ad-" id="acm-ad-tag-"></div>
  429. <h4 id="cases">441 cases, 5 deaths</h4>
  430. <p>A fifth Minnesotan — a Ramsey County resident in their seventies — has died of COVID-19, the Minnesota Department of Health reported Saturday.</p>
  431. <p><figure id="attachment_835509" class="m-content-media wp-caption alignright"><img class="size-full wp-image-835509" src=";strip=all" alt="Infectious Disease Director Kris Ehresmann" width="225" height="265" srcset=";strip=all?w=225&amp;strip=all 225w,;strip=all?w=190&amp;strip=all 190w,;strip=all?w=50&amp;strip=all 50w,;strip=all?w=75&amp;strip=all 75w,;strip=all?w=200&amp;strip=all 200w,;strip=all?w=110&amp;strip=all 110w" sizes="(max-width: 225px) 100vw, 225px" data-recalc-dims="1" /><figcaption class="m-content-caption wp-caption-text"><div class="a-media-meta a-media-credit">MinnPost photo by Peter Callaghan</div><div class="a-media-meta a-media-caption">Infectious Disease Director Kris Ehresmann</div></figcaption></figure>As of Saturday, all five people who died of COVID-19 in Minnesota so far have been in their seventies or eighties and had underlying health conditions, said MDH Infectious Disease Director Kris Ehresmann.</p><div class="acm-ad ad-" id="acm-ad-tag-"></div>
  432. <p>The department also reported 441 confirmed cases of COVID-19 Saturday, up 43 from Friday’s count of 398.</p>
  433. <p>The age range of cases announced Saturday is 2 to 73 years of age.</p>
  434. <p>“I’ll tell you right now the 2-year-old is doing well,” Ehresmann said.</p>
  435. <p>Because of a lack of testing capacity, the true number of cases in the state is likely higher than 441.</p>
  436. <p>30 Minnesotans are currently hospitalized due to COVID-19, 13 in intensive care. 220 Minnesotans who tested positive for COVID-19 at one point no longer need to be isolated, meaning they are considered to have recovered.</p>
  437. <div class="acm-ad ad-" id="acm-ad-tag-"></div>
  438. <p>Minnesota has 20 outbreaks in congregate living facilities, meaning either a resident or staff member has tested positive in them. The term “congregate living” is broad and includes long-term care as well as things like homeless shelters, prisons and jails, but no cases have yet been reported in prisons, jails or homeless shelters.</p>
  439. <h4 id="relief">Walz signs $330 million COVID-19 relief bill</h4>
  440. <p>On Saturday, Gov. Tim Walz signed the $330 million COVID-19 relief bill passed by the Minnesota Legislature. From <a href="">MinnPost state government reporter Peter Callaghan</a>:</p>
  441. <blockquote><p>[The bill] includes money for child care centers, homeless services and food banks. It creates new loan funds for small businesses and establishes a new account called the COVID-19 Minnesota Fund. That fund received $200 million to pay for undetermined costs to “protect Minnesota citizens” and “maintain state government operations.” Any expenditure must be approved by a special commission of legislative leaders and expires on May 11, presumably because lawmakers will return by then.</p></blockquote>
  442. <h4 id="tracing">MDH still pursuing tracing of contacts of positive cases</h4>
  443. <p>For all positive cases of COVID-19, Minnesota Department of Health officials are still doing contact tracing — trying to find the people who that person may have been in close contact with before developing symptoms.</p>
  444. <p>When a person tests positive for COVID-19, MDH traces contacts going back 24 hours before their symptoms started. A team follows up with those contacts, advising them on expectations and recommendations for limiting their activity and potential to expose others to the virus.</p><div class="acm-ad ad-" id="acm-ad-tag-"></div>
  445. <p>“We have reached out to hundreds and hundreds of contacts since our first case was identified,” Ehresmann said.</p>
  446. <p>Since limited testing capacity makes the true number of cases unknown, Ehresmann said it’s important that anyone who feels unwell stay home.</p>
  447. <div class="acm-ad ad-" id="acm-ad-tag-"></div>
  448. <p>“Because we know that we have transmission in the community, we’re asking everyone to be very self-aware and monitor for symptoms,” Ehresmann said. “It would be far better, if you started to feel crummy on a given afternoon, if you removed yourself from whatever you were doing and kind of isolated yourself.</p>
  449. <p>“While the system doesn’t allow us to do contact tracing on absolutely everyone, if the population is focused on self-monitoring and isolating themselves and staying out of public when they have any symptoms that will go a long way in reducing transmission,” she said. More guidance on what to do if you think you might have COVID-19 can be <a href="">found here.</a></p>
  450. <h4 id="hanks">Tom Hanks home</h4>
  451. <p>Today in good news, <a href="">Page Six reports America’s dad, Tom Hanks, is home</a>, along with his wife Rita Wilson. The two tested positive for COVID-19 while in Australia. They endured quarantine Down Under with good attitudes, posting <a href="">updates</a> <a href="">and funnies</a> on Instagram.</p>
  452. <h4>Today on MinnPost:</h4>
  453. <ul>
  454. <li>Asking yourself “How long has this been going on?” <a href="">Answers</a>, via News Editor Tom Nehil</li>
  455. <li>See the latest COVID-19 numbers on MinnPost’s<a href=""> dashboard</a>.</li>
  456. <li>“Cremate and wait”: Jim Walsh on how Minnesota <a href="">funeral homes are dealing with COVID-19</a></li>
  457. </ul>
  458. <p>For more information, visit <a href="">MDH’s coronavirus website</a>.</p>
  459. <p>Or call its COVID-19 health questions hotline, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.: 651-201-3920</p>]]></content:encoded>
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