MINNEAPOLIS — Today, U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) participated in a tour of Mayo Clinic’s coronavirus (COVID-19) labs and research sites with Mayo Clinic CEO Gianrico Farrugia to get an update on the latest COVID-19 testing, research and innovation, as well as Mayo’s latest efforts to expand their capacity to address other patient health care needs during the pandemic.
“Everyone working on these tests and the amazing turnaround that doesn’t just help Minnesota but helps the entire country was really inspiring to see,” Klobuchar said in remarks following the tour. “The treatments keep getting better, the knowledge keeps getting better, and Mayo has been such a major part of that on the national scene. It was an honor to visit today.”
“It was a privilege to share the many ways Mayo Clinic is leading in the fight against COVID-19 with Senator Klobuchar today,” says Dr. Gianrico Farrugia, Mayo Clinic President and CEO. “As we safely welcome back patients needing care for serious and complex conditions at our sites, we must also remain vigilant in our efforts to prevent and treat COVID-19 in our communities. We appreciate Sen. Klobuchar’s support as we tackle these challenges and will continue to work with federal, state and local officials to meet the needs of our patients, staff and nation.”
The tour at Mayo’s Research Information Center included an update from Dr. Amy Williams and Dr. Andrew Badley on Mayo Clinic’s reactivation strategy to meet other patient needs during the pandemic, new COVID-19 treatment and innovation, and updates on convalescent plasma treatment. At the Virology Lab, Dr. Matthew Binnicker, Dr. Elitza Theel, and Senior VP of Labs Scott Beck gave an update on the latest developments with the COVID-19 molecular swab and antibody blood tests, their testing partnerships in Minnesota and nationally, and a tour of the lab that processes COVID-19 tests.
Following the tour, Senator Klobuchar and Dr. Andrew Badley, Infectious Disease Specialist who is leading Mayo Clinic’s COVID-19 Research Task Force held a media availability.
In May, Klobuchar and Representatives Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) and Joe Cunningham (D-SC) sent a letter to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration, urging the Administration to raise public awareness of the importance and benefits of plasma donation in the effort to address the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a video released in May, all members of the Minnesota delegation called on citizens who have fully recovered from a COVID-19 infection to donate plasma and help fight the virus.
The convalescent plasma therapy program involves giving patients with coronavirus an infusion of antibody-rich plasma from people who have recovered from COVID-19. People who've recovered from COVID-19 -- such Senator Klobuchar’s husband, John Bessler -- have antibodies to the disease in their blood, which may help fight the virus. In April, Bessler was one of the first patients who had recovered from COVID-19 to donate plasma as part of Mayo Clinic’s program in Minnesota. Thousands of additional patients have now participated nationwide.