With newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 rising in most U.S. states, Minnesota officially added 426 new cases to its tally on Wednesday.
The New York Times’ closely watched coronavirus tracking now lists Minnesota in the category of “Where new cases are increasing,” though reporting delays make it hard to discern day-to-day trends in Minnesota Department of Health statistics.
Minnesota has 36,716 lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19. Roughly 32,000 Minnesotans have been released from self-isolation since getting the virus.
Nationally, about 2.7 million people have had confirmed cases of COVID-19. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, told senators Tuesday that he would not be surprised if the current pace of 40,000 new confirmed cases each day nationally grows to 100,000, if ongoing trends continue.
While states like California, Texas and Florida have been seeing rising case numbers in recent weeks, Gov. Tim Walz has said the number of new COVID-19 cases confirmed by laboratory testing in Minnesota plateaued in June.
The freshest case-count data reported by the state is also the most incomplete, because test results are reported based on the date the specimen was collected and there are reporting delays inherent in the system.
Using a seven-day average to smooth over daily trends, Minnesota’s rate of new positive cases declined during the first half of June, but then rebounded and started growing again on June 16, when the seven-day average was 309 new cases. The seven-day average surpassed 400 on June 26.
Despite those potentially concerning signs, the number of new deaths and hospitalizations from COVID-19 remain on clear downward trajectories.
Four new deaths were reported Wednesday, the lowest such tally in a week. Ten of the past 11 days have had single-digit numbers of COVID-19 deaths, after peaking at 35 on May 28.
All four people whose deaths were reported Wednesday lived in long-term care or assisted-living facilities, and all were at least age 70 or older.
The first day of July also saw continued declines in the number of people in the hospital for COVID-19, with 125 people getting intensive care in Minnesota hospitals for the illness, and another 135 in regular beds. Hospitalizations for COVID-19 have been trending downward since early June.
Most cases of COVID-19 — at least 80% or so — do not require hospitalizations, and therefore are categorized as “mild.” As many as 5% of cases require critical care in the hospital.
Factors that can increase a person’s likelihood of severe disease include advanced age, living in a group-residential setting and underlying health conditions including obesity, diabetes, asthma and diseases of the lungs, heart, kidneys and immune system.
People infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus can spread it to others even if they don’t have any symptoms, which is a key reason why public health authorities urge people to wear masks in public to capture any viral droplets of moisture in their breath. Younger people are less likely to have severe health effects, but they can transmit the virus to others.
People ages 20 to 29 have the highest number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 of any age group, and two people in their 20s have died from it. In contrast, Minnesotans in their 80s have fivefold fewer confirmed cases, yet they account for 493 of the state’s 1,445 deaths from COVID-19.
Joe Carlson • 612-673-4779