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The daily coronavirus update: State meets testing-capacity goal; Walz mulling mask mandate

The Minnesota Department of Health also announced Monday that 10 more Minnesotans have died of COVID-19,  for a total of 1,435.

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 June 29, 2020:

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35,861 confirmed cases; 1,435 deaths

10 more Minnesotans have died of COVID-19, the Minnesota Department of Health said Monday, for a total of 1,435.

Of the people whose deaths were announced Monday, three were in their 90s, one was in their 80s, two were in their 70s, three were in their 50s and one was in their 40s. Six of the 10 deaths announced Monday were among residents of long-term care facilities. Of the 1,435 COVID-19 deaths reported in Minnesota, 1,129 have been among residents of long-term care.

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

Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm
MinnPost photo by Peter Callaghan
At a press conference Monday, Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said cases in Minnesota are plateauing, but warned that they’re likely to rise due to relaxed restrictions.
MDH also said Monday there have been 35,861 total confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Minnesota. The number of confirmed cases is up 312 from Sunday’s count and is based on 7,522 new tests. You can find the seven-day positive case average here. Gov. Tim Walz said at a press conference Monday the current positivity rate of about 4.2 is a slight uptick, but the numbers have ticked up and down slightly. Minnesota’s positivity rate is much lower than some states’: the governor mentioned Arizona, with 14 percent positivity rate, as an example.

Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said Monday that cases in Minnesota are plateauing for now, but said she expects them to rise at least a little due to relaxed restrictions. It can take time for increases in cases to show up, since infections detected today reflect exposures that happened two to three weeks ago. It may also take time for case increases to show up because many show mild or no symptoms and may infect others without ever knowing they were infected themselves.

Since the start of the outbreak, 4,031 Minnesotans have been hospitalized and 278 are currently in the hospital, 140 in intensive care, the lowest number in the ICU since early May. You can find more information about Minnesota’s current ICU usage and capacity here.

Of the 35,861 confirmed positive cases in Minnesota, 31,225 are believed to have recovered.

More information on cases can be found here.

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Testing goal met

At a press conference Monday, Gov. Tim Walz announced the state had met a testing capacity goal he set in April. Now two months ago, he announced what he called a moonshot testing strategy, the goal of which was to have the capacity to test 20,000 people per day with the help of the Mayo Clinic and the University of Minnesota. Walz and health officials said this capacity to test should help Minnesota better manage the pandemic.

While the state’s test capacity has increased, the share of cases that are positive has not risen substantially, which health officials take as good news.

In late April, Minnesota ranked 42nd among states in terms of cumulative tests per capita.

Gov. Tim Walz
MinnPost photo by Peter Callaghan
At a press conference Monday, Gov. Tim Walz announced the state had met a testing capacity goal he set in April.
According to data from Johns Hopkins, the state now ranks 15th per capita among U.S. states and the District of Columbia.

Walz and Commissioner Jan Malcolm urged Minnesotans to remember the pandemic isn’t over, and to mind social distancing and follow mask-wearing guidelines as they head into a holiday weekend.

Walz not ruling out mask mandate

As research increasingly supports masks as a way to slow the spread of COVID-19, Gov. Tim Walz says he, like other governors, is not ruling out requiring people to wear them in public places.

“I’m serious about talking about it,” he said, acknowledging he’s heard from some business leaders that it would be easier for them to require customers to wear masks if it were a state mandate.

Last week, the Minnesota Medical Association, a doctors’ organization, put out a statement asking leaders to require masks indoors. But despite doctors’ and public health officials’ recommendations, for some people mask-wearing (or rather, not-mask-wearing) has become a political statement. 

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Community testing available in Watonwan County Wednesday

An increase in cases in southern Minnesota’s Watonwan County has prompted the installation of a free community testing site in Madelia, southwest of Mankato, on Wednesday, July 1.

Tests will be administered to anyone — symptomatic or not — who wants one, from noon to 7 p.m. at Madelia High School that day. Those seeking a test are encouraged to sign up for a time slot. More information can be found here.

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MDH’s coronavirus website:

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