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After several days with large case counts, the number of new confirmed COVID-19 infections dipped Tuesday to 480, which could be the result of a 30% decrease in tests processed.

On Sunday, Minnesota reported its largest one-day case count with more than 860 cases, continuing a four-day stretch were cases topped 700.

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About 9,000 diagnostic tests were reported Tuesday, a marked decreased from the nearly 13,600 reported on Monday.

New case reports on Mondays and Tuesday are typically lower, reflecting lower testing volume over the weekends.

However, the recent surge in new confirmed cases comes as state officials are preparing for a Thursday announcement about the coming school year.

“The trends of the last few weeks has made this analysis more challenging because we know that what happens kind of in the larger community affects what happens in the schools,” Minnesota Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said Monday.

The state policy will set the stage for either continued distance learning, in-school instruction or a hybrid model that encompasses both approaches.

Schools might also need to be prepared to be flexible as the COVID-19 pandemic evolves, Malcolm said.

“It is very possible that schools will be using more than one model over the course of the school year,” she said.

Although confirmed cases have been increasing, deaths from complications of the new coronavirus have dropped substantially.

Four additional deaths were announced Tuesday, bringing the state’s total to 1,580. Three of the deaths were long-term care residents.

Most people who become infected with COVID-19 experience mild or even no symptoms. For the most part, they recover at home without medical intervention.

Since the pandemic began, 45,987 of the 52,281 who have been infected are estimated to have recovered from the illness and no longer need isolation.

Those with underlying health conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, obesity and kidney disease are most likely to need hospital-level care.

A total of 294 COVID-19 patients are hospitalized, a net one-day increase of 37. Intensive care units have 138 patients statewide.

State officials hope that the recently issued mask mandate will help slow the spread of the virus. Because of an incubation period that can last up to two weeks, as well as delays in getting test results, it could take three weeks before the effects of the mandate can be evaluated.

To help businesses and consumers adapt to the new requirement, state officials sent 4 million disposable masks to chambers of commerce throughout Minnesota for local distribution.

The masks came from the state’s stockpile, according to the Minnesota Department of Administration. With masks costing between 75 cents and $1.12 each, the total amount spent on the effort was between $3 million and $4.5 million.

Another 300,000 reusable cloth masks were given to community organizations, food banks, area agencies on aging and affordable housing providers.

The state still has 4 million masks in its stockpile, while hospitals have another 13 million in inventory, the agency noted.

Glenn Howatt • 612-673-7192