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The daily coronavirus update: 32 more deaths; Minneapolis to require face masks inside public settings

Photo: CDC/Alissa Eckert

For the foreseeable future, MinnPost will be providing daily updates on coronavirus in Minnesota, published following the press phone call with members of the Walz administration each afternoon.

Here are the latest updates from May 21, 2020:

18,200 confirmed cases; 809 deaths 

State health officials reported another 32 deaths from COVID-19 on Thursday, Minnesota’s highest one-day death toll in the pandemic. So far, 809 Minnesotans have been killed by the disease. 

Twelve of the people whose deaths were reported Thursday were in their 90s, 12 were in their 80s, six were in their 70s, one was in their 60s and one was in their 50s. Of the 32 people who died, 28 were residents of long-term care facilities. So far, 663 of the 809 Minnesotans killed by COVID-19 were living in long-term care facilities.

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

The Minnesota Department of Health also said Thursday there have been 18,200 total confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Minnesota, which is up 530 from the cases reported Wednesday. Because Minnesota is only now developing the capacity to test everybody with symptoms, the number of cases of the virus is assumed to be significantly higher. 

Since the start of the outbreak, 2,380 Minnesotans have been hospitalized and 566 are currently in the hospital, 229 in intensive care. Of the 18,200 confirmed positive cases in Minnesota, 12,488 no longer need to be isolated, which means they are believed to have recovered.

A total of 173,556 COVID-19 tests have been completed in Minnesota, up 6,218 from Wednesday. MDH Commissioner Jan Malcolm said the state is averaging more than 6,400 tests over the last week. “That’s a significant improvement over the last couple of weeks but not as fast of growth as certainly we are aiming for in the coming weeks,” Malcolm said.

More information on cases can be found here.

Minneapolis orders face masks in public settings

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey signed an executive order Thursday that will require face masks inside public settings in the city starting May 26.

The new order will require cloth masks or coverings when people are in indoor gathering places such as stores, government buildings, schools and universities, recreational facilities and service centers. 

The city joins states such as New York, Illinois, Rhode Island, Utah, Massachusetts, Michigan and Delaware requiring masks by the general public. Nearly every state recommends mask-wearing in public and most states have requirements for masks for workers and customers in businesses such as restaurants and salons or when riding transit. Metro Transit has such a rule and Minnesota is one of the states requiring masks in some reopened businesses

But Gov. Tim Walz said last week that he has resisted making mask wearing a statewide requirement. In conversations with states like Ohio that considered it and decided not to, Walz said he learned that it can become a political flashpoint, and that a recommendation could be more effective. “When they talked about this being helping your neighbor and making it easier to open more things, they got a higher compliance rate,” Walz said. 

He also said mandates have enforcement problems. “It’s impossible to enforce that,” he said. “We’re not having the State Patrol going on mask patrol.”

In a Thursday news conference, Frey lamented the notion that wearing masks has become politicized: I’m not gonna mask my frustration,” he said. “Watching out for the health of your city should not be an ideological issue. It should not be partisan. You don’t have a right to put other people at risk.

Unemployment spikes to 8.1 percent

Minnesota’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate spiked to 8.1 percent in April, the Department of Employment and Economic Development said Thursday, an increase of 160,627 unemployed people from March to April.

The numbers represent the first full month of the impact COVID-19 has had on the state’s economy since restrictions on businesses started in mid-March. Minnesota lost 387,894 jobs year over year. 

The hardest-hit sector was leisure and hospitality, which lost 148,593 jobs over the year, down 55.5 percent. But many sectors of the economy have seen staggering job losses in the wake of Gov. Tim Walz’s stay-home order. 

The April unemployment rate does not show the full extent of the economic fallout. It’s based on a survey that ends mid-month, so it reflects the employment situation through the first part of April. Between March 16 and May 20, 695,156 people applied for unemployment insurance benefits.

State warns religious gatherings could put vulnerable at risk

State health officials on Thursday urged religious groups to comply with restrictions on in-person services, saying they can put the elderly or people with underlying conditions at risk. Minnesota’s Catholic Church and some Lutheran denominations said Wednesday they would defy rules limiting the number of people that can gather.

Walz’s latest guidance says bars and restaurants can serve customers outdoors at partial capacity — up to a maximum of 50 people — but churches can’t hold outdoor services with more than 10 participants.

Bernard A. Hebda, the Archbishop of Minneapolis and St. Paul, said the Catholic Church would resume Mass next week at partial capacity. Hebda also criticized Walz for relaxing its rules for many businesses and activities, “many of which cannot be classified as essential as the life of faith,” but not religious services.

Malcolm, the MDH commissioner, said the Walz administration is hearing the frustration from churches and understands “the value and the strong desire for reconnection with our faith communities.” 

But she said faith gatherings can pose “special risks” to congregation members, and said the state is being cautious as cases and deaths continue to rise in Minnesota. 

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MDH’s coronavirus website:

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

Comments (16)

  1. Submitted by John Sloan on 05/21/2020 - 06:27 pm.

    Maybe its time for the Governor and MDH to abandon its reliance on the Covid-19 model it has placed so much reliance on.

    The state is performing very poorly in extended care centers and at the same time destroying even healthy Minnesota small businesses.

    The Governor touts a reliance on science and data. Maybe he should quit shutting out professionals that he doesn’t agree with like YouTube and Facebook are doing.

    • Submitted by Pat Terry on 05/22/2020 - 09:57 am.

      YouTube and Facebook aren’t shutting out experts. They are shutting out frauds. They are shutting out misinformation.

  2. Submitted by Bill Davnie on 05/21/2020 - 08:13 pm.

    Has anyone checked on ‘excess deaths’ to get a sense of what the fuller death toll of COVID-19 might be?

  3. Submitted by Deran Cadotte on 05/21/2020 - 10:19 pm.

    I’ve been advised that Mary Jo’s is serving folks “shoulder to shoulder.” Why isn’t MDH investigating?

  4. Submitted by Bill Schletzer on 05/22/2020 - 08:54 am.

    I was looking forward to enough restrictions being lifted that I could spend some time in Uptown and see a movie at the Lagoon and shop for books at Magers and Quinn. Usually I see a movie on a weekday afternoon and there is seldom more than a half dozen people in the theater. I can’t picture eating popcorn with a mask on. I’d feel like a fool sitting in an empty theater only wearing a mask out of fear of the mask police. As far as I’m concerned I can work my life without going into Minneapolis and if all the restaurants and small businesses in the city go out of business, so be it. Then this fall when Minnesota falls to Trump in the election because people are sick of the arbitrary, draconian rules of the over the top Democrats I’ll say I told you so, even if I have a little cough. Let’s see, I can go to the liquor store because that is “essential” but I can’t go to church, even with social distancing rules in place. I’m starting to wonder if the right wing fear mongers are right and the left is using the virus to turn our society into a not so Brave New World.

    • Submitted by Pat Terry on 05/22/2020 - 09:31 am.

      You should talk to a friend of mine. She’s a nurse. She sees people with Covid fighting for their lives every day. She sees other nurses getting sick themselves.

      Sorry that you can’t go see movies.

    • Submitted by Tim McCarthy on 05/22/2020 - 12:34 pm.

      Mammon must be served. We must sacrifice our parents to the greatest God of all, Economy

  5. Submitted by BK Anderson on 05/22/2020 - 09:59 am.

    “Walz learned [mask-wearing] can become a political flash point”; “Frey lamented the notion that wearing masks has become politicized”.

    This is what comes of political movement demonizing government for over 40 years: a radicalized self-centered citizenry that cannot accomplish any collective purpose, including (very minor) sacrifices aimed at combating the spread of a dangerous pandemic.

    This is your country on “conservatism”, folks.

  6. Submitted by joe smith on 05/22/2020 - 10:25 am.

    So how is my wearing a mask at the local deli stopping folks from LTC facilities from dying? Shouldn’t the LTC facilities have special measures in place that keep them safe from me eating a corn beef sandwich in Minneapolis? With 82% of deaths in LTC facilities, one might think emergency measures would be in place there. Governor Walz just do what Ron DeSantis did in Florida, can’t be that hard.
    As far as masks go, the N95 has Up to 0.3 micrometer Protection, COViD 19 has molecules that measure 0.7-0.9 micrometers, cloth masks filter 1.0-0.1 micrometers. So other than showing how “woke” and compliant you are, tell me the value of masks.
    Finally, if you take all deaths today in Minnesota and take 95, 85,75,65,& 55 as their ages you come out with 85 as average age of those dying. Seems some were thinking younger folks were dying.

    • Submitted by Pat Terry on 05/22/2020 - 11:05 am.

      Daily death panel update. Only old people are dying, so its all ok.

      • Submitted by joe smith on 05/22/2020 - 11:44 am.

        Pat, why are Minnesotans dying at the highest rate in the country ? How does my eating a sandwich 2 miles from a LTC facility affect those vulnerable elderly we are losing daily at an astonishing rate?
        As I said 2 months ago, if 80%+ of the deaths in Minnesota are LTC patients, why are we not putting 80%+ of our resources towards that demographic?
        For a person that is all about “helping” folks who need it, I see no urgency towards helping seniors in Minnesota from the Left.

        • Submitted by BK Anderson on 05/23/2020 - 08:35 am.

          Thank goodness that Covid deaths in MN LTC facilities apparently make up a (somewhat) higher percentage in MN than some other states, Joe; otherwise you’d have very little to complain about!

    • Submitted by Brian Nelson on 05/22/2020 - 12:22 pm.

      The value of masks? You could read the evidence:

  7. Submitted by joe smith on 05/22/2020 - 10:46 am.

    Did Amy Klobuchar’s husband take hydroxychloroquine ? She claimed to not know if he did or not. One would think her answer would be a hard “NO” , knowing Trump recommended it and how bad it is for you.

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