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DEED Call with MN Department of Health Commissioner Malcolm: Vaccine Update & “Lifting the Pause”

APPLE VALLEY CHAMBER NOTE: These are the actual numbers from today’s conference call. However you will see at the end, THE QUESTION ABOUT LIFTING THE PAUSE. The answer is for you to speculate however you choose in regards to what the Governor will do.

2020 12 14 Call, Commissioner Malcolm

Monday, December 14, 2020

2:02 PM

Commissioner Malcolm

Kris Ehresmann

Purpose: regular press call/update

·        US: Increase of 189K case from yesterday, 1348 deaths. Now over 16M total cases and close to 300K deaths.

·        MN: 4433 new cases on Sat, 3431 on Sun. total for today was 3026 new cases.

o   Total of 67 deaths on Sat, 85 on Sun, 18 reported today.

o   381,841 cases total and 4462 deaths.

o   Total of 19,638 patients hosp. 4255 in ICU.

o   Currently 1283 in hospitals, 319 in ICU.

o   Hospital beds assigned to COVID has been on downward trend.

o   Nearly 11K new cases since Fri, and high death toll over weekend, still in precarious state.

·        Good news: case growth has been coming down since mid-Nov.

o   Hospitalizations are down from their high, still 3x as many as previous peak in May.

o   15.4% positivity rate was the peak, now is around 12-13%. “fairly stable.”

·        When we see slower rate of new cases, also saw lower testing rates. Just need to keep watching the data closely.

·        Still at extremely high rate compared to w

·        here we have been, and where other states have been at the top of their spikes.

·        New cases/day/100K people, 7-day average: we consider over 5 as a caution indicator. Rate of 10 is “high risk indicator.” we are now down below 100 (!!). Had been over 100 for a while.

·        Growth rates turned exponentially at around 30 new cases/day/100K people. Still 2x as high as EOM October.

·        Anticipate 400K cases by end of year.

o   Took 30 weeks to 100K case.

o   6 weeks to next 100K cases.

o   16 days to reach 3rd 100K cases.

o   Next 16 days reached 62K cases. So slowing somewhat.

·        Rate of people dying:

o   Over 1K have died since mid-Nov.

o   Took 12 weeks from first death to reach first 1K

o   17 weeks to reach 2d 1K (summer flattening)

o   7.5 weeks to reach 3d 1K

o   20 days to reach 3th 1K

Kris Ehresmann re vaccine distribution

·        FDA approved first vaccine.

·        Advisory Committee also recommending it.

·        MN is planning: first shipment arrived in MN today. Going to 4 sites:

o   MN Veteran Affairs Medical Center

o   Sanford Bemidji Medical Center

o   Olmsted County Medical Center

o   Cass Lake Indian Health Services

·        46,800 units are expected this week. from there, using spoke and hub model.

o   Distributed to smaller hospitals/clinics

o   They will administer to health care workers in MN

·        Keep in mind:

o   Supply during earliest phases is quite limited.

o   Priority Group 1 to be vaccinated: health care workers and LTC residents

o   Priority Groups 1B and 1C are still TBD.

o   Several mths before average Minnesotan will get vaccine.

·        In the meantime, be patient, and keep safety measures in place.

·        Vaccine is very effective in prevention; less information in reducing infectiousness or transmission.

·        This week MDH will train providers for procedures/protocols to administer. Will begin next week. Is new and complex; this is a massive undertaking.

·        Focus is safety, not speed.


1.      Some states doing vaccinations today. Why are we taking extra time? Ehresmann: ACIP met on Saturday. Advisory Committee on Immunizations Practices. Reviewing who would be top priority… they voted on Sat. before that vote has effect, must be approved by CDC. Done on Sunday. Then they publish materials. Our teams have prepared training guidance in advance, needed final details from that vote (for whom is contraindicated, what to do with co-administration with other vaccines…) our commitment is to make sure everyone feels comfortable, down to the vaccinators, that administration is safe. Some states are doing ceremonial vaccinations, but the bulk likely won’t happen to the end of this week as well. Training in advance of administering vaccinations is required. More important than being the first.

2.      Vaccine hesitancy/refusal.. Any sense of that here? Ehresmann: there has been some level of vaccine hesitancy expressed. A lot of those studies were done in early Fall, before vaccine was ready and before education was available on safety processes. FDA went through their safety processes, added many staff to expedite the process. As people hear that safety was not compromised but, instead, sped things up in terms of efficiency…. Need to include this in the training to help answer questions.

3.      Gov announcement later this week re current “pause”: what have you learned from last month re the pause? Anything new re more situations that are more infectious than others, or if the pause has helped slow the spread? Malcolm: overall comment… it’s good to give a full 4 weeks between change and measure of impact. Downturn in case growth has coincided with the pause, and we think Minnesotans are taking this seriously. So we think it’s been beneficial. Complicated by Thanksgiving holiday… Ehresmann re details on what they’ve learned: for many venues closed during this “pause,” we continue to see cases reported. Speaks to the delay in gathering of info. We have, however, seen a reduction. Have caught up with the cases that would have occurred prior to the pause. And have seen 7-day rolling average drop, ICU admissions drop, case #s overall. The concern is that they still are at incredibly high levels, even with the benefit of the Pause. Vaccine is like a firehose, trained on a fire. Won’t have as much impact on a forest fire if we keep getting re-spread… Mitigation efforts must continue.

4.      Do you have enough information to advice the Governor on modification of the Pause? Ehresmann: community gatherings are still leading to transmission. Not a dramatic change from that basic concept, esp when not masking.

Also, good info on state COVID-19 relief package:



First Vaccine Shipments



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