Minnesota health officials question New York travel restriction

Minnesota health officials question New York travel restriction

New York on Tuesday added Minnesota to its COVID-19 travel restriction list, meaning that travelers from this state will need to fill out a disclosure form and quarantine themselves for 14 days upon arrival.

The addition surprised Minnesota health leaders, because the state appears to be below New York’s announced threshold for travel restrictions. The restriction also applies in New Jersey and Connecticut and includes 22 states, including Iowa and Wisconsin,

“We are looking into this as it does not jibe with our data,” said Kris Ehresmann, state infectious disease director, in an e-mail Tuesday morning.

New York’s criteria is to restrict travelers from any states in which the daily number of new COVID-19 cases is at least 10 per 100,000 people — or in which the positivity rate of COVID-19 tests is above 10%.

Minnesota’s COVID-19 dashboard was updated on Tuesday morning to show a daily COVID-19 new case rate of 6 per 100,000 people, and a testing positivity rate of only 3%.

The state on Tuesday reported another 403 COVID-19 cases, bringing the total in the pandemic to 43,170 known infections with the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19. The state on Tuesday also reported six COVID-19 deaths that involved three Minnesotans from Anoka County and three from Ramsey County — all at least 60 years of age. The state’s death toll in the pandemic is now 1,510.

The number of Minnesotans hospitalized for COVID-19 declined on Monday to 236 — including 107 people needing intensive care. Both are the lowest daily hospital figures in Minnesota since mid-April.

State Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm on Monday had said that health officials are monitoring the positivity rate of COVID-19 diagnostic tests in Minnesota, which had increased from 4% two weeks ago to 4.7% last week.

That was before Tuesday’s updated figures showing a decline in the positivity rate. The rate remains well below the state’s dashboard threshold of 15% that would signify a concern, but health officials said any increase could be a sign that the virus is circulating more broadly in Minnesota.

While some growth in confirmed cases is likely due to more diagnostic testing activity over the last week, state health officials are concerned that the recent increase in Minnesota could mimic the pattern in many Southern and Western states.

Arizona, Texas, Florida and others saw initial increases in infections among young adults and teens. They later saw an increase in hospitalizations and deaths when those young adults spread the virus to people who are at greater risk due to their age and underlying health conditions. California on Monday again ordered the closure of bars, restaurants and other public gathering places due to a rise in COVID-19 cases.

Minnesota’s case growth for now is concentrated on young adults and teenagers, with the median age of confirmed cases dropping to 37.6 years. Only two COVID-19 deaths in Minnesota have involved people 29 or younger, even though they make up more than 35% of the state’s known cases.

People 70 and older make up 10% of the state’s cases but 81% of the deaths. Risk of death and hospitalization also has been higher among people with underlying health conditions such as diabetes and heart disease, and among residents of long-term care or assisted-living facilities. Among all COVID-19 deaths so far in the pandemic, 1,175 have involved residents of such facilities.

 

 

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