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

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.

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.

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.

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

Comments (24)

  1. Submitted by Joel Stegner on 05/23/2020 - 06:26 am.

    Is church an essential service for the Trump family? First, they seldom show up. Second, the lives they and the decisions they make are in no way impacted by religious values or beliefs. The Trumps worship the Golden Calf, not a recognized religion.

    • Submitted by tom kendrick on 05/23/2020 - 07:07 am.

      Amen to that!

    • Submitted by BK Anderson on 05/23/2020 - 08:41 am.

      The hypocrisy and pretense is so overwhelming one would think it would be fatal!

    • Submitted by Johnna Hansen on 05/23/2020 - 09:23 am.

      Whether President Trump attends church or not, has no baring on his decision on making Church attendance essential. I for one agree that Church attendance is essential. The Bible says we are to meet together as a congregation. (Hebrews 10:24. Also, Walz is denying my first amendment right to freedom of religion. Instead of Judging Trump let’s look at the matter at hand. Would you deny my right to practice religion? Would you have me be disobedient to my God? Judge not lest you be judged Mattew 7:1-3

      • Submitted by Dennis Litfin on 05/23/2020 - 12:05 pm.

        Johnna….. While reading/quoting biblical verses, .check out R B’s post of a couple of days ago…..Matthew 6, v 5 & 6.

      • Submitted by BK Anderson on 05/23/2020 - 12:13 pm.

        Well you’re right about Trump, but you must admit he is (shall we say) a rather preposterous “messenger” and Defender of the Faith. And he is opening this bitter battle for purely partisan reasons, since he hasn’t the slightest interest in how one could actually view worship services as “essential”. This is nothing but a political ploy to virtue signal to his Evangelical base.

        As for your scriptural authority, both Testaments of the Bible were written somewhat before the germ theory of medicine was “revealed” to humanity….do you think God wants the Bible to be a suicide pact? That would be a pretty literal, Fundamentalist reading, I guess!

        What if we were dealing with the Black Death of the 14th Century and not the (somewhat milder) Covid-19? Flock to worship and ask for God’s Mercy as they did then? That worked out well!

      • Submitted by Donna Saggia on 05/23/2020 - 04:02 pm.

        It’s ignorant to base the argument for opening up churches on 1st Amendment rights. The community’s right to life trumps anyone’s “right” to entering a church building — read the 1st Amendment please and notice that you still have a right to worship, just not inside an enclosed space where a deadly virus can infect you and your community. Apparently being religious means never having to care about society.

    • Submitted by Barbara Dennis on 05/23/2020 - 09:32 am.

      Trump is the most non-religious person I’ve seen in my 83 years. He isn’t even humanitarian!

    • Submitted by Dan Berg on 05/23/2020 - 12:43 pm.

      Trump won’t be seen in a house of worship. It would make him seem weak, suggesting that there is a higher power. Higher than his.

    • Submitted by Robert Ahles on 05/23/2020 - 01:05 pm.


  2. Submitted by BK Anderson on 05/23/2020 - 08:56 am.

    The incendiary divisiveness of this crusade for religious services in time of pandemic is incredible even for Trump, and of course is nothing more than a gratuitous symbol of cultural “resistance” to lib’rul “fascism” by conservative white males who themselves wouldn’t attend a worship service to save their lives. When the amoral heathen Trump is forced to attend a funeral service he quite literally doesn’t know what to do; he looks around like he’s never seen the inside of a church before…

    Clearly Trump (and the oh-so-moderate Gazelka) are inciting churches foolish enough to accept the invitation to embark upon a bitter church-state battle in the Trumpified federal courts. And should the churches “win” the battle, what do they get? The almost certain death of some of their oldest and most devoted parishioners! But the symbol prevailed, that’s what matters…

    Heckuva job, “conservatives”. Their mottto: “We’re [not] all in this together!”

  3. Submitted by James Drew on 05/23/2020 - 10:00 am.

    The closest thing to heaven on earth is our worship service. It is an assembly of the redeemed praising our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and partaking of his word unto the promise of salvation. Every man resists God. It is our sinful nature. Faith itself cannot be humanly achieved. It is a gift received from the Creator to know him and follow in his ways. The bottom line is God will not be stopped. He uses every circumstance, event and condition to lead his people. Combinations and government, right or wrong will ever be. A difficult struggle for me at this time is to get caught up in the politics and lose sight of what is truly real and important. The best thing I can do for Governor Walz and his admin is to pray for Godly wisdom and leave it to the One who is really in control.

  4. Submitted by joe smith on 05/23/2020 - 10:09 am.

    I see where many states are having a hard time getting folks to be tested. I assume Minnesota will fall into that category soon. Non LTC deaths are at 158 in Minnesota, of those 158, 98% had multiple underlying health issues. If you don’t fall into that demographic, why get tested, unless you deal directly with folks in danger. For most Minnesotans, getting tested is just a hassle and not necessary. There will be a spike in testing for a bit, as the basement dwellers sneak out for a test then scurry back to the cellar. Most Minnesotans are try to get back to work and a normal life, not get a test.

  5. Submitted by Betsy Larey on 05/23/2020 - 10:13 am.

    As I read through this I quickly did the math. I looked at the total number of deaths and divided it by the population. Anybody else do that? Have you seen it in the media? Me either. 0.003%. Is this correct?
    If so, why did we shut down the entire economy? So 81.3% of these 0.003 deaths were in nursing homes? Given those numbers, I just am wondering how this compares to the regular flu. And I’m not trying to be a smart butt here, I’m really interested in knowing. These are the real numbers, so please don’t reply and tell me “ it’s going to get worse”. They’ve been saying that for many months. Thanks

    • Submitted by BK Anderson on 05/23/2020 - 12:17 pm.

      No one is going to waste their time beating this dead horse at your request, Betsy.

      If you really want to know the massive differences between the two viruses, there’s a recent Minnpost article up spelling out precisely how “Covid-19 is not the Flu”

  6. Submitted by George Kimball on 05/23/2020 - 10:41 am.

    This guy Trump is like the most obnoxious person on the dive bar barstool. Get a few drinks in him and he will start spouting his great ideas. Illusions of grandeur. We’ve all seen it. Then as a joke the rest of the bar patrons, who are similarly drunk, and have zero knowledge of civics or what true leadership involves, start chanting “USA, USA, and TRUMP FOR PRESIDENT”. Then they commiserate about how it’s about time someone like them should be elected president. “A true American” who would keep those commies and foreigners – especially those gooks – out of our country and MAGA. And stand up to China. And stop trade deals with foreigners. And lower everybody’s taxes. And get rid of Obama’s socialist health care and social security and all that shi_. Not realizing every “policy” they mindlessly favor would lead to the ruin of their country.

  7. Submitted by Rosalie O'Brien on 05/23/2020 - 12:15 pm.

    I am blown away by the class and good judgment shown by Governor Walz. He continues to dedicate himself totally to absorbing new information, collaborating with fellow state leaders and relevant experts, and looking out for the overall wellbeing of Minnesotans. He is not afraid to make difficult judgment calls, and he always keeps us informed without wasting time and energy swatting flies.

    As a former St. Louisan, I read just this morning about Professor Rebecca Messbarger of Washington University in St. Louis, who has noted how important this is:

    “One hundred years ago, the Spanish Influenza pandemic provided evidence still studied today of the benefits of social distancing during a mass contagion. St. Louis, then the fourth-largest city in the United States, exemplified effective public health policies that limited causalities among the local citizenry far better than other cities of equal or greater size through the stringent enforcement of social distancing: the extended closure of schools, churches, cinemas, restaurants, bars, and other venues for social gathering; limitations on businesses’ hours of operation; and strict regulation of all public assembly.

    “St. Louis’s iron-spined health commissioner, Max Starkloff, withstood immense pressure from the business community, school administrators and the Archbishop to enforce weeks of closures. He had the indispensable support of Mayor Henry Kiel and backup from hospital administrators and medical practitioners on the frontlines. Despite vocal opposition to the shutdowns, especially in the early days of flu’s spread in St. Louis, Starkloff built a coalition of support through public hearings and an emphasis on truth and transparency about the disease, which allowed him successfully to compel mass social distancing.

    “We are seeing in real time the profound impact on communities — here in St. Louis, across the country and the globe — of implementing or failing to implement not only social distancing strategies, but timely and transparent public communication and institutional coalition-building in the face of this crisis.”

    Those who do nothing but make noise are so tiresome! They may distract many, but we are truly fortunate to have a leader in whom our confidence is fully justified.

    • Submitted by Betsy Larey on 05/23/2020 - 04:12 pm.

      And you are retired, I presume. Or wealthy. Obviously you are not dependent on a job. Do you understand the numbers, have you done the math? 0.003% morbidity rate. That is less than 1/2 of one percent. Nursing home people who would have died fairly soon of something else.
      Not worth throwing thousands of business owners into bankruptcy. And all of their employees out of work. The restaurant industry is the largest employer being shut down right now.

      • Submitted by BK Anderson on 05/24/2020 - 08:02 am.

        Ah, it appears you have willfully refused to educate yourself about the virus and instead persist in your own uninformed “interpretation” of it.

        This tells me all I need to know.

        • Submitted by Brian Nelson on 05/26/2020 - 11:23 pm.

          “Nursing home people who would have died fairly soon of something else.”

          This also tells me all that I need to know.

  8. Submitted by Scot Kindschi on 05/23/2020 - 04:18 pm.

    Go ahead Tim, open the gatherings of the cults. But…don’t forget to start making them pay their fair share of taxes as well. It will help pay for the damage that they cause.

  9. Submitted by David Markle on 05/23/2020 - 05:11 pm.

    Today (May 23), the Star Tribune reports on the front page that “at least 150people in the densely populated predominantly black {East African] Cedar-Riverside neighborhood of Minneapolis have tested positive . . . ” Although there has been a lot of testing in the neighborhood, I believe this bad news should call attention to the chronic overcrowding in the Riverside Plaza apartment complex.

    In the past I’ve walked all the narrow corridors to leaflet the 1300 unit complex by myself several times, and occasionally someone or another would open their apartment door during the process. If that happened, I often saw wall to wall mattresses, an unsafe condition even without the pandemic. I suspect that the periodic inspections are less than sterling.

    This situation speaks of the low income housing crisis as well as bad management. .

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