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Six more people have died of COVID-19 in Minnesota and nearly 700 new cases have been confirmed across the state, health officials reported Saturday.

The Minnesota Department of Health reported a net increase of 690 new coronavirus infections, according to a data release on Saturday morning, on a volume of about 17,135 completed tests.

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The share of tests coming back positive stood at 4%, which is lower than in recent days. Lower positivity rates suggest better control over the rate at which the virus is spreading.

The latest numbers show 307 patients were hospitalized, compared with 313 on Friday; 140 patients required intensive care, compared with 152 ICU patients Friday.

Daily tallies for hospitalized patients in Minnesota have been on the rise in recent weeks, although they remain well below peaks of more than 600 hospitalized patients and about 260 in the ICU in late May.

Residents of long-term care and assisted-living facilities accounted for four of the six deaths newly announced by the Health Department. Statewide, 1,699 people have died from the virus, including 1,273 deaths in long-term care or assisted living residents.

COVID-19 is a viral respiratory illness caused by a new coronavirus that was found circulating late last year. Since the first case was reported in Minnesota in early March, hospital stays have been required in 5,822 cases.

People at greatest risk from COVID-19 include those 65 and older, residents of long-term care facilities and those with underlying medical conditions.

Health problems that increase COVID-19 risks range from lung disease and serious heart conditions to severe obesity and diabetes. People undergoing treatment for failing kidneys also run a greater risk, as do those with cancer and other conditions where treatments suppress immune systems.

Most patients with COVID-19 don’t need to be hospitalized. The illness usually causes mild or moderate sickness; studies suggest that up to 45% of those who are infected won’t have symptoms.

Numbers published Saturday morning cover the 24-hour period ending at 4 p.m. Friday.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

Christopher Snowbeck • 612-673-4744