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The daily coronavirus update: 33 more deaths in Minnesota; Walz mum on Trump’s call to reopen churches

The 33 deaths are the highest single-day total in Minnesota during the COVID-19 pandemic so far.

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 22, 2020:

19,005 confirmed cases; 842 deaths 

Thirty-three more Minnesotans have died of COVID-19, state health officials said Friday, bringing the death toll of the pandemic to 842. The 33 deaths are the most reported in one day so far in the outbreak and only the second time more than 30 deaths have been reported in a day. On Thursday, health officials said 32 people died.

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Eight people whose deaths were reported Friday were in their 90s, 13 people were in their 80s, three were in their 70s, seven were in their 60s, one was in their 50s and one was in their 30s.

Twenty-five of the people who died were residents of long-term care facilities. So far, 688 of the 842 people who have died of COVID-19 in Minnesota were residents of 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 Friday there have been 19,005 total confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Minnesota, up 805 from Thursday’s count. Because Minnesota has only recently developed 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, 2,432 Minnesotans have been hospitalized and 534 are currently in the hospital, 233 in intensive care. Of the 19,005 confirmed positive cases in Minnesota, 12,696 no longer need to be isolated, which means they are believed to have recovered.

A total of 180,971 COVID-19 tests have been completed in Minnesota, an increase of 7,415 from Thursday.

More information on cases can be found here.

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Trump says churches ‘essential’; Walz offers little response

Frustration over state-level restrictions on religious services across the country reached President Donald Trump this week, who said Friday he would designate churches and other houses of worship as essential, though it’s unclear if he has the authority to override state rules, the Associated Press reported.

President Donald Trump
REUTERS/Carlos Barria
President Donald Trump
Minnesota Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka had told Fox News host Laura Ingraham on Thursday about frustration over rules imposed by Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz, and Ingraham in turn publicly asked Trump to intervene. 

Walz is prohibiting religious gatherings of more than 10 people indefinitely, even as the state relaxes rules to allow bars and restaurants to serve at limited capacity outside. The governor’s administration also promised guidance and perhaps restrictions on singing, which research shows can be a dangerous cause of COVID-19 spread. The Catholic Church and some other denominations have promised to defy Walz’s orders.

“First of all, they’re telling you don’t go to church,” Gazelka said on Fox News. “And then if you go to church, they’re telling you how to worship. It’s just problematic on every level.”

On Friday, the Trump administration released new, non-binding guidelines for religious services that promote cloth masks, heightened sanitation and hygiene practices, social distancing and other steps. It says congregations should consider limiting the size of gatherings but does not put a limit on the number of people that should attend services.

Gov. Tim Walz
Christine T. Nguyen/MPR News/Pool
Gov. Tim Walz
Walz spent the morning talking privately with church leaders, but offered little in response to Trump. The governor’s spokesman, Teddy Tschann, said in a written statement that Walz “looks forward to reviewing the new CDC guidance to better understand what this means for places of worship in Minnesota.”

Jan Malcolm, the MDH commissioner, told reporters Friday afternoon that CDC guidance informs their actions, but the state reserves the right to break from federal suggestion. Malcolm continued to stress the danger of singing and said the state will continue to advise against large crowds with people close together, especially if vulnerable people would be in attendance.

Free COVID-19 tests at six Minnesota sites 

Minnesota is offering free COVID-19 testing at six sites across the state this weekend, starting Saturday and going through Monday. 

Members of the Minnesota National Guard will collect 2,000 samples per day across the six sites, which will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. No appointments are necessary and Minnesotans are not required to show insurance cards or IDs to get tested. Tests results are expected to be available in 48 hours.

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Any Minnesotan can get tested, but the state is advising it is especially encouraged for people who are ill or have been exposed to someone known to have COVID-19. Masks are required at the sites.

  • East St Paul, 1530 Maryland Ave E, St Paul, MN 55106
  • Minneapolis Armory, 1025 Broadway St. NE, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55413.
  • Moorhead Armory, 1002 15th Ave N, Moorhead, MN 56560
  • Duluth Armory, 4015 Airpark Blvd, Duluth, MN 55811
  • Faribault Armory, 3000 W Airport Rd, Faribault, MN 55021
  • St. James Armory, 521 Armstrong Blvd N, St James, MN 56081

Flags at half-staff to honor COVID-19 victims

Gov. Tim Walz ordered flags to be flown at half-staff at Minnesota’s state and federal building, effective immediately through sunset on Sunday in honor of COVID-19’s victims. The administration is encouraging others to do the same.

President Donald Trump made a similar order for U.S. government buildings, military posts and embassies.

Possible case of multisystem inflammatory syndrome in Minnesota

State Epidemiologist Dr. Ruth Lynfield said MDH has been notified of a possible case of multisystem inflammatory syndrome in a child in Minnesota. Last week, the state issued a health advisory for the condition, a severe illness seen in some children thought to be connected to COVID-19. MDH is reviewing medical records to see if the child meets the case definition, Lynfield said.

Today on MinnPost

Around the web

  • In hard-hit New Jersey, COVID-19 saddles some small health departments with a crushing workload, reports ProPublica.
  • The antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine is linked to an increased risk of death in coronavirus patients, according to research reported by the Washington Post.

MDH’s coronavirus website:

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