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The daily coronavirus update: four more deaths in Minnesota; MDH urges caution during holiday weekend

The number of confirmed cases in Minnesota is up 413 from Tuesday’s count. Hospitalizations continue to drop in the state after reaching a peak of 263 on May 30. 

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 July 1, 2020:

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36,716 confirmed cases; 1,445 deaths

Four more Minnesotans have died of COVID-19, the Minnesota Department of Health said Wednesday, for a total of 1,445.

Of the people whose deaths were announced Wednesday, one was in their 90s, one was in their 80s and two were in their 70s. All four people who died were residents of long-term care facilities. Of the 1,445 COVID-19 deaths reported in Minnesota, 1,135 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 Wednesday there have been 36,716 total confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Minnesota. The number of confirmed cases is up 413 from Tuesday’s count and is based on 11,886 new tests. You can find the seven-day positive case average here.

Since the start of the outbreak, 4,081 Minnesotans have been hospitalized and 260 are currently in the hospital, 125 in intensive care. Hospitalizations continue to drop in the state after reaching a peak of 263 on May 30. There are fewer people currently in the ICU than at any point since May 1. You can find more information about Minnesota’s current ICU usage and capacity here.

Of the 36,716 confirmed positive cases in Minnesota, 31,947 are believed to have recovered.

More information on cases can be found here.

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State says be careful during July 4 weekend

Ahead of the July 4 holiday weekend, state health officials said people should avoid gathering in large groups and stay outside whenever possible to limit the spread of COVID-19. 

MDH Commissioner Jan Malcolm said it’s tempting to “go back to normal” while celebrating, but encouraged people to be “vigilant” by holding virtual visits and practicing social distancing. She said young people should also be cautious. While they are less at risk of severe disease, they’re not “invincible,” Malcolm said, and could spread the disease to more vulnerable people.

Around the country, health officials have been urging people to stay home rather than go out, especially as COVID-19 cases have surged around the country after the loosening of restrictions on public life.

MDH argues for a mask mandate

MDH has advised Gov. Tim Walz to require everyone in the state to wear masks in public, a move the governor says he is considering but so far has resisted.

Malcolm said wearing masks are “so important and so effective” at preventing the spread of COVID-19. “We think it’s prudent protective policy statewide,” she said.

Mask requirements have been politically controversial in the state.

Blood donor tests find little spread of COVID-19

Testing on nearly 1,000 blood donors in June found just 1.2 percent had previously been infected by COVID-19, a rate that Dr. Ruth Lynfield, the state epidemiologist, said was surprisingly low.

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While Lynfield said the 983 blood donors from the Twin Cities and northeastern Minnesota are not representative of the population, and the state is still conducting testing to determine “seroprevalence”— how many people have been exposed to this virus — the results still suggest very few Minnesotans have been infected with COVID-19.“I think that it is great that there have been people who have been uninfected,” Lynfield said. “It also means that we have a large population of people that are at risk. And so until we get an effective vaccine we have to do everything we can to protect people from getting infected.”

A population is expected to have “herd immunity,” vastly slowing the spread of a disease, when between 60 to 70 percent of people have contracted the illness. That blood data showed just 1.2 percent of donors tested had COVID-19 means “we have a long way to go to get herd immunity,” Lynfield said.

(Science also remains unsettled on immunity, including how long it may last.)

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MDH’s coronavirus website:

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