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The daily coronavirus update: 35 more deaths, a single-day record

The health commissioner also specifically addressed those protesting the death of George Floyd, encouraging social distancing and the use of face masks.

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 28, 2020:

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22,947 confirmed cases; 967 deaths

Thirty-five more Minnesotans have died of COVID-19, the Minnesota Department of Health said Thursday, for a total of 967. That is the highest number of deaths reported in a single day since the start of the outbreak.

Of the deaths announced Thursday were two people over age 100, three in their nineties, 15 in their eighties, six in their seventies, four in their sixties, three in their fifties, one in their early forties and one in their early thirties. The people in their forties and thirties were not known to have underlying health conditions. Twenty-seven of the 35 people whose deaths were announced were residents of long-term care.

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

MDH also said Thursday there have been 22,947  total confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Minnesota, up 483 from Wednesday’s count. 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, 2,880 Minnesotans have been hospitalized and 606 are currently in the hospital, 242 in intensive care. Of the 22,947 confirmed positive cases in Minnesota, 16,665 no longer need to be isolated, which means they are believed to have recovered.

A total of 225,208 COVID-19 tests have been completed in Minnesota.

More information on cases can be found here.

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MDH encourages protesters to wear masks, social distance

Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm started Thursday’s briefing by acknowledging that COVID-19 probably isn’t top of mind for many after George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis this week.

Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm
MinnPost photo by Greta Kaul
Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm
She acknowledged people’s right to protest and encouraged those who decide to do so to mitigate the risk of spreading COVID-19 by wearing masks and social distancing.

“We just want to encourage folks who may be gathering to please just be mindful of the risk and that [the] risk can be reduced, certainly not eliminated but reduced, by social distancing and wearing masks,” she said.

Large-scale protests are expected to continue this weekend. Asked whether these gatherings are likely to affect the spread of COVID-19 in Minnesota, Malcolm said they likely would.

“Gatherings of the size that are expected under the conditions we’re experiencing would very predictably accelerate the spread,” she said.

Infectious Disease Director Kris Ehresmann added that MDH is in a better position to respond, with more contact tracing, than it would have been a few weeks ago.

St. Paul ordered to wear masks in public places

St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter will order that face masks be worn in indoor public places starting June 1. Carter also directed city staff to help restaurants develop outdoor seating to coincide with a state order to let restaurants begin to open outdoor seating.

Both orders follow similar actions taken by Minneapolis. June 1 is when Gov. Tim Walz’s executive order opening restaurants and salons takes effect.

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“Continuing to support our public health and safety as we reopen the economy and get all of us back to work is critical,” Carter said in a statement Wednesday. “These measures expand the vital public health tools we can deploy and support our restaurants and bars in leveraging every opportunity to reopen under Phase II of Stay Safe MN.”

Carter’s face mask order includes all but small children and those with medical conditions that prevent them from complying. He also asked businesses to require patrons to wear masks when they are not able to maintain social distancing of at least six feet.

The outdoor seating order suspends some parking requirements for restaurants and bars and directs staff to expedite applications for outdoor seating permits, including the use of parking spaces. It also asks for quick review of requests to close roads temporarily and to use park space for patio seating.

DEED evacuated; could slow unemployment processing

The Department of Employment and Economic Development evacuated employees from several locations in the Twin Cities Thursday because of ongoing protests over the death of George Floyd.

Agency commissioner Steve Grove said the evacuation may cause a delay in help with unemployment insurance benefits, which has been a lifeline for many who aren’t working because of COVID-19 restrictions. More than 710,000 people have applied for unemployment benefits since March 16.

Grove said the move was “necessary for the safety of our team.” In St. Paul on Thursday, people damaged businesses in St. Paul’s Midway neighborhood, breaking windows and looting stores. The Minnesota Senate also told staff and lawmakers to evacuate, anticipating unrest may reach the state Capitol.

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MDH’s coronavirus website:

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