Community Spread Drives Huge Increase in Test Positivity Rate; Governor Announces New Statewide Restrictions

For those tracking the COVID-19 test positivity rate by county, particularly care centers using that data to determine their staff testing protocol, the accelerated community spread in the last few weeks has had a huge impact. CMS test data for the two weeks ended 9/30 showed Minnesota with 35 green counties (positivity less than 5%), 46 yellow counties (5-10%) and 6 red counties (over 10%). In the most recent data, for the two weeks ended 11/11, virtually all MN counties are now red, with only four rural counties (Cook, Fillmore, Lake and Lake of the Woods) with yellow status and none in green.

This shift in the data means many more care centers need to implement twice a week staff testing, and at a time when lab results are coming back more slowly due to capacity already being stretched. LeadingAge MN has been working with the Health Department to address this issue so that lab results can be returned in time to address the quarantining of asymptomatic staff as quickly as possible. We also advise members to consider a multi-pronged testing strategy using saliva and antigen tests to take pressure off lab capacity.

In response to the unprecedented surge of COVID-19 cases across the state, Gov. Tim Walz will impose new restrictions on bars, restaurants and fitness centers starting Friday (11/20), closing them down to the public for four weeks. The new restrictions will also include a temporary pause on youth sports.

Walz will deliver an address to Minnesotans at 6 p.m. tonight (11/18/20) to discuss the latest steps in his response to COVID-19.

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