“With the change we made to our data yesterday, we’re still providing the same level of information and transparency, we’re just getting more specific with the metrics,” Ehresmann said. “We made this change because new hospital and ICU admissions data are more meaningful measures to tell us about the severity of disease than just looking at how many people are in the hospital on a given day.”
MDH Assistant Commissioner Dan Huff also spoke about the ending of a CDC Community Assessment for Public Health Emergency Response survey due to hostilities that the survey teams faced.
COVID-19 survey ended in Minnesota after health officials face confrontations, racial slurs
According to Huff, a number of teams were confronted or harassed while in the field.
Huff said some CASPER teams were subject to racial slurs.
Another incident occurred on Sept. 15 in Eitzen, where a team was surrounded by three men, one of whom was armed. The men blocked the team in with two trucks. During the incident, the three men refused to accept their identification as public health workers.
“We hope that this episode gives us all a chance to take a pause and consider how we treat each other during this stressful time,” Huff said. “The enemy is the virus, not each other.”
Huff and Ehresmann said the hostility to public health workers has gone beyond the CDC CASPER survey teams.
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Ehresmann added that she has received threatening and hostile emails and phone calls.
Huff said local public health officials have reported being harassed, as well as MDH inspectors.
“I think, from my perspective, it’s unfortunate,” Huff said. “I know (there are) good people in Minnesota, and I know that we, at our best come together to tackle problems collectively, to tackle problems constructively. And we are not at our best right now, and that is disappointing.”
The health officials also spoke briefly about the state being downgraded to “uncontrolled spread” status by COVID Exit Strategy, an independent group of public health and crisis experts.
Ehresmann said the designation comes from widespread community transmission that is seen in the state. According to Ehresmann, over 36% of the state’s cases are due to community spread.
She added the designation is not surprising with the number of outbreaks and spread that is being seen within the state.
“It certainly is a situation in which we can change this, we can make a difference if people are willing to consider those painfully often repeated messages of masking, distancing and avoiding large groups,” Ehresmann said.