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The daily coronavirus update: 24 more deaths; Walz extends stay-at-home order

The order was extended another two weeks, and may go longer.

Photo: CDC/Alissa Eckert

For the foreseeable future, MinnPost will be providing daily updates on coronavirus in Minnesota, published following the press phone call conducted by the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) with Gov. Tim Walz and administration officials each afternoon.

Here are the latest updates from April 30, 2020:

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5,136 confirmed cases; 343 deaths

Twenty-four more Minnesotans have died of COVID-19, the Minnesota Department of Health said Thursday, for a total of 343.

Of the deaths announced Thursday:

  • Six were in their 90s
  • Seven were in their 80s
  • Eight were in their 70s
  • Two were in their 60s
  • One was in their 40s with significant underlying health conditions

Fifteen were Hennepin County residents; three were Ramsey County residents; two were Anoka County residents; one was a Clay County resident; one was a Dakota County resident; one was a Washington County resident; one was a Winona County resident. Twenty-two of the 24 were long-term care facility residents.

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The current death toll only includes Minnesotans with lab-confirmed positive COVID-19 tests.

MDH also said Thursday there have been 5,136 total confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Minnesota, up 253 from Wednesday count. Because Minnesota hasn’t had the capacity to test everybody with symptoms, the number of people with the virus is assumed to be significantly higher.

Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm
Evan Frost/MPR/Pool
Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm
The number of positives is expected to increase significantly as Minnesota begins to test more people under an initiative announced last week to test as many as 20,000 Minnesotans per day. Last week, state officials said anyone with COVID-19-like symptoms should be able to get tested. Previously, tests had been limited to specific populations whose results mattered most for public health.

Since the start of the outbreak, 1,044 Minnesotans have been hospitalized and 365 are currently in the hospital, 130 in intensive care. Of the 5,136 confirmed positive cases in Minnesota, 2,172 no longer need to be isolated, which means they are considered to have recovered.

A total of 70,276 people have been tested for COVID-19 in Minnesota.

More information on cases can be found here.

Walz extends stay-at-home to May 18

Now for the big Thursday news: Walz announced an extension of his stay-at-home order, now in effect for 34 days. The order was originally in effect from March 27 to April 10, was extended to May 4, and now goes until May 18. (11:59 p.m. on May 17 for those counting).

Gov. Tim Walz
Evan Frost/MPR/Pool
Gov. Tim Walz announced an extension of his stay-at-home order to May 18.
There are some slight modifications, though: Starting Monday, May 4, retailers can make sales from their stores curbside. That includes maintenance and repair businesses.

“Dry cleaning, candle sales, whatever it might be,” Walz said at the presser. Also, dog groomers.

The full 40-page order can be read here. MinnPost’s Walker Orenstein has what you need to know about the order here.

Unemployment numbers continue climb

As of Thursday, there have been 584,431 applications for unemployment in Minnesota since March 16. The number of daily applications continues to decline.

About 40,000 Minnesotans who are independent contractors or self-employed, eligible for unemployment under a federal coronavirus relief act, have received payments, DEED Commissioner Steve Grove said. He expects 10,000 more payments to go out Thursday.

DEED Commissioner Steve Grove
Evan Frost/MPR/Pool
DEED Commissioner Steve Grove said about 40,000 Minnesotans who are independent contractors or self-employed have received payments.
More than 35,000, or about 6 percent of the workers who have filed for unemployment since March 16, are retail sales workers, according to DEED statistics. The Walz administration says it believes the modification in Thursday’s executive order will bring 30,000 back to work.

Walz responds to pressure to release inmates

Amid pressure from the American Civil Liberties Union and other organizations  to release some inmates as coronavirus spreads, Walz said Department of Corrections Commissioner Paul Schnell has the authority to do so and in some cases has.

Three Minnesota correctional facilities in Minnesota now have confirmed cases of COVID-19 among inmates: Willow River has 45, Moose Lake has 33 and Lino Lakes has one. Staff members at Moose Lake, Willow River, Lino Lakes, Red Wing, Shakopee and Stillwater have tested positive.

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Walz said some have been released for health reasons, while others who were within 90 days of their scheduled release have been given work release. One concern, Walz said, is that releasing those without a home to go back to puts them at risk.

“I think there’s concern both for the workforce that’s in these facilities and those that are under our care, there’s a humanity here that we cannot put them in situations where [they’re at risk,]” Walz said.

Walz said the DOC is doing the best it can on social distancing, but acknowledged it can be difficult — especially in some of Minnesota’s older facilities.

To people concerned about ICE detainees, Walz said they’re under federal jurisdiction.

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MDH’s coronavirus website:

Hotline, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.: 651-201-3920