A new single-day record of 35 deaths associated with COVID-19 has increased the toll of the pandemic in Minnesota to 967 people.
The latest figures from the Minnesota Department of Health included 493 new lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19, which is caused by a novel coronavirus, bringing the total case count to 22,947. The state also reported that 606 people were hospitalized and that 242 were in intensive care.
Long-term care or assisted-living facility residents make up 787 of the total deaths — and 27 of those reported Thursday. Another two were reported Thursday among residents of behavioral health group homes. Deaths also are more common among people with underlying health conditions such as diabetes, asthma, and diseases of the heart, lungs, kidneys or immune system.
The state reported 8,676 COVID-19 diagnostic tests were completed by public and private labs on Wednesday — also a single-day record. Results continue to show the increasing risk of COVID-19 by age. Six deaths have been reported among 4,580 confirmed cases among Minnesotans in their 30s. Among the 1,171 cases involving people in their 80s, 331 were fatal.
The death figures bring Minnesota closer to Gov. Tim Walz’s prediction of 1,000 by the end of May, but below estimates of 1,400 to 1,700 that came from data modeling by researchers at the University of Minnesota and the Minnesota Department of Health.
That estimate was based on conditions in Minnesota as of late April, when the rate of change in COVID-19 deaths was steeper. Health officials stressed that the modeling is not designed to precisely estimate the impact of the pandemic, but rather to evaluate what social policies and restrictions might be most effective.
Walz has used the modeling and other information sources in his decisions, including a 51-day stay-at-home order that lasted until May 18, and subsequent orders to restore more businesses and public activities.
Churches as of Wednesday were allowed to resume services for up to 250 people or 25% of the capacities of their worship spaces. Restaurants and bars will be able to offer outdoor and patio services on June 1, and salons will be able to provide limited appointments.
State leaders urged Minnesotans to wear cloth, non-medical-grade masks in public. As many as 80% of infections involve mild or no symptoms, meaning that some people could be spreading the virus and not know it.
The COVID-19 case count in Minnesota now includes 2,549 health care workers — a number that is influenced in part by heightened monitoring and testing in this population.
The state last week reported that 140 of these workers were likely infected due to medium- or high-risk exposures on their jobs — either when they weren’t wearing masks or other protections around patients or residents who had COVID-19, or their protective gear broke or was contaminated.
Of that group, 16 required hospital care and one died. Six in 10 of these cases involved workers in long-term care or assisted-living facilities. Roughly two in 10 involved workers at medical clinics or hospitals or other acute care facilities.
Jeremy Olson • 612-673-7744