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The daily coronavirus update: National Guard helping with testing at long-term care facilities; guidelines for safe gatherings

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 14, 2020:

13,435 confirmed cases; 663 deaths

Twenty-five more Minnesotans have died of COVID-19, the Minnesota Department of Health said Thursday, for a total of 663.

Of the deaths announced Thursday were one person over 100, six people in their nineties, seven in their eighties, eight in their seventies, two in their fifties and one in their thirties believed to have underlying health conditions.

The deceased were residents of the following counties: Hennepin (14), Anoka (2), Stearns (2), Ramsey (2), Brown (1), Clay (1), Dakota (1), Polk (1) and Washington (1). Twenty-one of the 25 were residents of long-term care.

The current death toll only includes Minnesotans with lab-confirmed positive COVID-19 tests. Nine Minnesotans are listed as probable COVID-19 deaths, meaning the virus was listed as their cause of death but not confirmed by a lab test.

MDH also said Thursday there have been 13,435 total confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Minnesota, up 518 from Wednesday’s count. Because Minnesota is only now developing the capacity to test everybody with symptoms, the number of confirmed cases of the virus is assumed to be significantly higher.

Since the start of the outbreak, 1,915 Minnesotans have been hospitalized and 498 are currently in the hospital, 203 in intensive care. Of the 13,435 confirmed positive cases in Minnesota, 8,473 no longer need to be isolated, which means they are believed to have recovered.

A total of 128,752 COVID-19 tests have been completed in Minnesota.

More information on cases can be found here.

Minnesota National Guard deployed to help with long-term care testing

Twenty members of the Minnesota National Guard have been deployed to help with the state’s plan to protect Minnesotans in long-term care facilities, Emergency Management Director Joe Kelly said.

National Guard members who are trained medics are helping to perform the nasopharyngeal swabbing needed to collect samples in long-term care facilities.

Gathering guidelines

When Gov. Tim Walz’s stay-at-home order ends Monday, Minnesotans will be allowed to gather in groups of 10 or fewer. Health officials outlined some practical tips for doing so safely, including:

  • Social distancing: staying at least 6 feet apart;
  • Being outside, where there’s more airflow, if possible;
  • Don’t gather with people who are ill (but remember, many people with COVID-19 are asymptomatic, so it’s important to take precautions regardless of whether people are ill nor not);
  • Be extra careful around people who are older or have underlying health conditions, limiting face-to-face interactions with them;
  • Be mindful of not crowding when entering or exiting gatherings as well as during them.

New MDH dashboard

MDH has launched another dashboard, this one designed to help Minnesotans and public officials make decisions about when it might be time to once again tighten restrictions on interactions based on COVID-19’s progression in the state.

It looks at: whether Minnesota’s molecular testing capacity is sufficient, whether the share of positive cases out of total tests is high or changing quickly, whether case counts are doubling quickly and whether a significant number of cases have no known exposure (or that number increases quickly).

According to the most recent data on the page, Minnesota is in the clear on all the measures, except unknown exposures, which account for 36 percent of cases.

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MDH’s coronavirus website:

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

Comments (4)

  1. Submitted by joe smith on 05/15/2020 - 10:28 am.

    To finish up on yesterday’s conversation as to solutions and if neighboring States are out performing Minnesota in protecting their citizens. First as far as solutions to protecting the LTC patients, anything we do differently will be better. Minnesota has 81.6% of its deaths from long term care facilities, by far the highest in USA. Look at what Governor DeSantis did in Florida (State with highest population of seniors) and replicate his success, not that hard.
    Secondly, there was push back on deaths per 100k and how much better our neighboring States were doing. Minnesota is the highest in the region with deaths per 100k of 11. Iowa has 200 more confirmed cases of COViD 19 but 318 deaths compared to Minnesota at 663 deaths, why? As I stated Governor Walz should get on the phone and change direction of State towards a more successful path.

    • Submitted by Marc Post on 05/15/2020 - 11:52 am.

      It’s because MN has better testing rates. We’re testing more and finding more cases and more resulting deaths. It’s just that simple.

      MN also isn’t suppressing death rate reporting like Florida is.

      • Submitted by joe smith on 05/15/2020 - 12:11 pm.

        Not true Marc, Iowa has 200 more confirmed cases of COViD 19 than Minnesota, due to aggressive testing. Per capita, Iowa with 3.1M people versus Minnesota with 5.4M, having 200 more positive tests of COViD 19, yet under half the deaths, shows higher testing and better results by 50% on surviving the virus. Why?

        • Submitted by Marc Post on 05/15/2020 - 03:24 pm.

          I think you’re making far too many assumptions. There are many different tests with varying accuracy. The population that is actually being tested is also a factor. For example, MN is aggressively testing seniors. Is IA? Can you prove that? And what test is MN using verses IA?

          What is the criteria IA uses to determine if a death is Covid or not compared to MN?

          You are not comparing apples to apples.

          Lies, damn lies, and statistics…

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