Today we mark a significant milestone. Exactly one month ago today, the first case of COVID-19 was reported in Minnesota. In the health sciences, we have seen a phenomenal response in education, research, and clinical care.
There is an article in today's Star Tribune about predictive modeling for the progress of COVID-19. These models are critical to us as we work to understand what to expect. With so many models out there, I want to share some important insights from Dr. Brad Benson, Chief Academic Officer.
On this first day of April and with a clearer picture of the months to come, here are updates on our critical progress.
When our world is suddenly divided into on-site workers critical to health and safety and those who can safely work off-campus, our role as a University comes into sharper focus. We are a school, not only educating people for specific professions, but on how to be good, capable people. In some ways, there is no better time than a crisis to do this.
It is normal, when facing something like COVID-19, to look at the history of past epidemics. What we need to recognize is that, just as the speed and intensity of this pandemic is unprecedented, so too is the speed and intensity of the University's response.
We have talked about physical safety, mental resilience, innovation, self care, emotional health, and other issues we will face with COVID-19. Looming large over all of these are the moral and ethical tests to come, many of them for the first time. How do we prepare for this?
Think, for a moment, about grains of sand pouring through an hourglass. As each grain adds to the pile below, a familiar conical shape emerges. At certain points, the next grain destabilizes the pile and the cone shifts, but the conical shape re-forms again and again.
Governor Walz has issued an executive order telling Minnesotans to stay at home. The University has already asked that everyone work from home, so we are well positioned to support the Governor’s plan.
Thank you for your ongoing service to the University and the state. With your collective creativity, distributed brainpower, and most importantly focus, we have made inroads in testing new treatments and solutions for the COVID-19 pandemic.
Over the weekend, I had some time to reflect. I want to thank you all for being ambassadors of rationality, poise, and action, as well as for your mastery founded in clinical care, technology and science in which we deliver these.
It has been four days since President Gabel’s office issued the directive to work from home, and two days since that directive has been made mandatory. It has been a week since we announced our Rapid Response Research Grants to tackle the shortages of materials or supplies evident in our effort to treat COVID-19.
Here are some statistics for you to consider today: yesterday, there were 0 new local cases of COVID-19 infection in China; there were 475 deaths in Italy.
I continue to be impressed by those stepping up and channeling creative solutions to the issues around us. We have funded three Rapid Response Research Grants so far, and are reviewing five more.
In times like this, it is important that we are making decisions in a rational, confident, data-based way as our community adapts to changes in what must be done. Second to this by only a small bit is communicating these in a way that allows individuals to implement and follow new ways of doing business.
I am grateful to all our providers, staff and scientists who try harder than ever to provide for our patients: our three treatment interventions are underway. And even as we scale back non-essential and non-COVID-19 lab operations, essential research will continue.
Today, Governor Walz announced a peacetime State of Emergency for COVID-19. This will allow quicker response as needed. Governor Walz reiterated that we are prepared and thanked our front line healthcare workers.
Our clinicians are prepared – we train for this. Our hospital is the only federally-designated containment center in the upper Midwest. Our investigators have been quick to act and begin work on possible prevention and treatments, as well as develop a greater understanding of this virus.
All classes, including clinical rotations and experiences, are to be offered through alternative instruction for two weeks. We will re-evaluate weekly. This restriction does not apply to residents and fellows but only health science students learning in classes and clinical experiences.
The University is suspending all student education and study abroad programs in South Korea for the spring 2020 semester due to increased COVID-19 cases and concerns raised by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. State Department.
We continue to closely monitor global public health concerns involving the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV). As this issue continues to evolve, our goal is to provide you with any significant updates as they become available.