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The daily coronavirus update: 7 more deaths; State investigating bars and restaurants for social-distancing compliance

For the third day in a row, the Minnesota Department of Health announced more than 600 new confirmed cases of COVID-19.

Photo: CDC/Alissa Eckert

MinnPost provides updates on coronavirus in Minnesota Sunday through Friday. The information is published following a press phone call with members of the Walz administration or after the release of daily COVID-19 figures by the Minnesota Department of Health.

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Here are the latest updates from July 17:

45,013 confirmed cases; 1,533 deaths

Seven more Minnesotans have died of COVID-19, the Minnesota Department of Health said Friday, for a total of 1,533.

Of the people whose deaths were announced Friday, two were in their 90s, two were in their 80s, two were in their 70s and one was in their 60s. Four of the seven deaths announced Friday were among residents of long-term care facilities. Of the 1,533 COVID-19 deaths reported in Minnesota, 1,183 have been among residents of long-term care.

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

MDH also said Friday there have been 45,013 total confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Minnesota. The number of confirmed cases is up 666 from Thursday’s count and is based on 14,671 new tests. The test positivity rate has remained steady around 4.7 percent this week, up from 4.5 percent a week ago. You can find the seven-day positive case average here.

Friday’s new case total represents the third day in a row where MDH reported more than 600 new cases. After days of decline, ICU usage also jumped a bit, from 103 to 107.

Since the start of the outbreak, 4,563 Minnesotans have been hospitalized and 252 are currently in the hospital. You can find more information about Minnesota’s current ICU usage and capacity here.

Of the 45,013 confirmed positive cases in Minnesota, 38,568 are believed to have recovered.

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More information on cases can be found here.

MDH: Use tests wisely

MDH officials urged Minnesotans to use the state’s testing supply wisely.

With an increase in COVID-19 cases nationally, public health officials are becoming concerned that the supply chain for laboratory supplies to perform COVID-19 tests will tighten. Additionally, some test supplies have been diverted from Minnesota to states like Texas, California and Florida, emerging hotspots where there are many new coronavirus cases, Infectious Disease Director Kris Ehresmann said.

Ehresmann said workplaces and other organizations, like youth sports, that are requiring people to test negative before participating in work or play should not be doing so. The reasons are two-fold: one, the tests only determine that someone was negative at the time of testing, and two: it’s especially not a good use of tests when supplies threaten to be constrained.

If someone has symptoms of COVID-19, they should stay out of activities until at least 10 days after symptoms started, and should refrain for at least three days after symptoms or fever have subsided.

State investigating COVID complaints in bars and restaurants

MDH Commissioner Jan Malcolm says the agency is stepping up enforcement of COVID-19 safety requirements laid out in executive orders by Gov. Tim Walz, particularly in bars and restaurants.

The agency has received 120 complaints since Monday about potential violations, many focused on employers not wearing masks, too many people in indoor spaces, not enough spaces between tables and other social distancing concerns.

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“We’re stepping up this enforcement, not to play gotcha with restaurants and bars but because we feel so strongly that following these requirements is so essential to help reduce the spread of COVID-19,” she said. Compliance is not just a matter of safety for staff and patrons, but of being able to keep the level of spread low enough to keep businesses open, Malcolm said.

Public health officials’ first step is to educate businesses, but they do perform follow-up visits and can take regulatory action if businesses don’t comply with rules.

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MDH’s coronavirus website:

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