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173 MN healthcare workers have COVID-19, most from travel or community transmission

The latest figures were confirmed by the Minnesota Department of Health.

A little over a quarter of the people diagnosed with COVID-19 in Minnesota are healthcare workers.

That's according to the Minnesota Department of Health, whose Tuesday update revealed that 173 healthcare workers have contracted the virus.

However, Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said that in the majority of cases, the workers got the virus either through travel or through transmission in the community.

There have only been a single case where a healthcare worker has contracted the virus from a patient.

There have also been six cases where a healthcare worker has gotten the virus from a colleague.

In total, there are 19 cases of healthcare workers at long-term care facilities having COVID-19, but only three of those got the virus from a resident.

The high incidence of healthcare workers having confirmed coronavirus compared to the overall rate is likely down to the fact that the Minnesota Department of Health is prioritizing healthcare worker testing, along with the hospitalized and those in congregate living settings such as long-term care.

Walz: PPE shortage 'a huge problem'

There remain ongoing concerns over the shortage of personal protective equipment for Minnesota's healthcare workers, amid a wider shortage nationwide.

Health organizations have been accepting donations of PPE from members of the public who have any to spare.

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But that might become somewhat more difficult in the future given that the Centers for Disease Control is considering advising that people start wearing masks when they outside of their homes.

The previous guidance was that masks should be reserved for healthcare workers and those with symptoms, and the New York Times is reporting that a change in the advice could lead to a run on masks – such as the N95 respirator masks – needed by health workers.

Gov. Tim Walz said during his Monday media briefing that the PPE shortage is a "huge problem," and part of the reason he imposed a "Stay at Home" order was to buy hospitals more time so they can get more PPE.

"The question is will they have enough next week? Or more importantly, will they have enough on when the peak is there?" he said. "At this time, they don’t yet."

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