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Goyal: ‘Masks, social distancing necessary as state reopens’

With the state starting to lift restrictions on businesses, health care professionals are urging people to continue practicing appropriate measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

“As things open up, I’m perturbed at the number of people walking around without masks and not observing the appropriate distancing,” said Mayo Clinic Dr. Deepi Goyal, M.D., Regional Chair of Practice for Southeast Minnesota and Medical Director for Hospital Incident Command for Southeast Minnesota. “As businesses open, we need to ensure we take the appropriate measures, which includes masking and social distancing, to prevent further spread of COVID-19. As much as we want to open up the economy, we need to do it safely.”

Goyal noted that there has been an uptick in cases throughout Minnesota, focused especially in industrial hotspots.

“We’ve been working with those companies to make sure they have the appropriate safety measure in place,” he said, adding that facemasks, social distancing and isolation are important for those potentially exposed at work.

Goyal said Mayo has been partnering with the state to provide testing capabilities to nursing homes as a means to test their staff and residents.

“Mayo developed its own test early in March and that has been instrumental in the testing ability in the state,” he said. “We do have adequate supplies and have never been at capacity when testing in our communities.”

Goyal also expressed confidence in Mayo’s ability to treat COVID-19 patients.

“We do feel we have the capacity and capability to treat patients with COVID-19,” he said. “Our hospitalization rate has been relatively low across Mayo sites, but our mortality rate has been very low. There is no clearly delineated treatment, but we are working with scientists around the world to accelerate treatment procedures and a vaccine.”

Goyal noted that Mayo has been keeping a close eye on the recent uptick to continue modifying predictions of the number of potential cases to ensure they maintain the ability to respond.

Although elective procedures are now being allowed in hospitals, Goyal said Mayo is doing a gradual reactivation of elective procedures.

“We’ve been ramping that up cautiously and trying to make sure we can keep our patients and staff safe,” he said. “We’re not allowing them 100 percent.”