MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – Vice President Mike Pence meets Tuesday at the Minnesota Mayo Clinic to learn more about a new coronavirus “moonshot” test that has the famous clinic in partnership with the State and its flagship university to quickly increase state capacity to 20,000 tests per day.
It is an approach that takes advantage of a health care infrastructure that not all states can match. And that should help Minnesota become one of the most aggressive states in the scale tests that experts believe are necessary to reopen the economy safely. Minnesota is one of the many states that have stopped waiting for help from the federal government.
Democratic Governor Tim Walz unveiled the state-University of Minnesota and Mayo partnership last Wednesday, promising that every resident with coronavirus symptoms will be tested once the plan is implemented in the coming weeks.
“This is not a state that will simply go through COVID-19; it’s a state that’s going to drive this nation and the world out of there, ”Walz vowed.
Pence acknowledged Walz’s efforts at a White House briefing on Thursday, where he also congratulated Ohio Governor Mike DeWine on an initiative to increase his state’s testing capacity to 22,000 a day thanks to a partnership with the reagent manufacturer Thermo Fisher. The vice president also cited Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds for a partnership with Utah-based start-up Nomi Health to increase his condition testing capacity by 3,000 a day compared to its 1,000-2,000 current ones.
“This is the type of approach and commitment we need, and I am pleased that the Vice President is shedding light on promising efforts. We need more, ”said Jennifer Nuzzo, epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, about Pence’s visit to Mayo. “Congratulations to Minnesota for being part of it. “
Minnesota has one of the lowest per capita confirmed cases in the country, but its tests lag behind what the Walz administration considers necessary. Associated Press analysis of COVID tracking project data shows Minnesota is now among the lowest states in terms of per capita testing, sixth down to 10.51 per 100,000 population, Kansas stands ranking at 9.01. Rhode Island is the highest with 50.51. while New York, the hardest hit state, ranked second with 41.21.
“Minnesota is probably weak in terms of tests per thousand compared to other states, but the good news for Minnesota is the test it does against the cases it finds is relatively high …”, said Nuzzo. “You don’t want the majority of your tests to end up in cases, as that suggests there are many cases you can’t find. “
The death toll from the Minnesota coronavirus increased from 14 to 286 on Monday, while 214 new confirmed cases brought the total to 3,816. Public and private laboratories had performed 61,268 tests on Monday,
There is a huge variation across the country on how aggressive the states have been on the test, said Dr. Joel Shalowitz, assistant professor at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University. This is in part because some states that perform a lot of testing, such as New York and New Jersey, are among the states hardest hit, while some states that perform less testing also have fewer cases. So many of the tests are motivated by the need to test or the alleged need, he said.
Although the University of Minnesota and the Mayo Clinic are “world-class institutions,” Shalowitz said, it will depend on the accuracy of their tests. False positives can force healthy patients into isolation, while false negatives can cause the virus to spread through infected people. The precision between the other institutions varies considerably, he said.
“If Minnesota can increase its capacity to 20,000 tests per day, it would be a very significant increase in its testing capacity,” said Dr. Thomas Tsai, health policy researcher at Harvard Global Health Institute.
Being at both the University of Minnesota and the Mayo Clinic “increases the tools in the toolbox for testing,” he said. But the test numbers are not the complete answer, he warned.
“The ability test is part of the puzzle,” said Tsai. “The most important part is the strategy around the test – without waiting for people to show up. You need to actively seek out contacts and actively raise awareness in the community. “