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The daily coronavirus update: Minnesota warns of numbers going in wrong direction

The state’s case positivity rate was at 4.8 percent, near the five percent threshold that is a warning sign for public health officials.

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.

Here are the latest updates from July 27:

51,803 confirmed cases; 1,576 deaths

Two more Minnesotans have died of COVID-19, the Minnesota Department of Health said Monday, for a total of 1,576.

Of the people whose deaths were announced Monday, one was in their 80s and one was in their 70s. Both deaths announced Monday were among residents of long-term care facilities. Of the 1,576 COVID-19 deaths reported in Minnesota, 1,207 have been among residents of long-term care.

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

MDH also said Monday there have been 51,803 total confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Minnesota. The number of confirmed cases is up 650 from Sunday’s count and is based on 13,542 new tests. Monday was the sixth consecutive day Minnesota has announced a caseload of more than 600, and Sunday’s total of more than 850 is the highest total announced since the pandemic began, discounting a high number reported last week due to a changeover in computer systems. You can find the seven-day positive case average here.

Since the start of the outbreak, 4,961 Minnesotans have been hospitalized and 257 are currently in the hospital, 126 in intensive care. You can find more information about Minnesota’s current ICU usage and capacity here.

Of the 51,803 confirmed positive cases in Minnesota, 45,198 are believed to have recovered.

More information on cases can be found here.

Numbers taking a turn for the worse

Some critical measures MDH is using to track the severity of the pandemic are getting worse.

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The case positivity rate, now at a 4.8 percent seven-day average, has been on the rise and is nearing the 5 percent level that health officials say marks a low warning threshold, with 15 percent positivity marking a high level of concern.

This and other measures, such as new cases and hospitalizations per capita, lag by a week, but indicate the novel coronavirus is more widespread than it was weeks ago in the state.

“You’ve heard [Infectious Disease Director Kris Ehresmann] and I both and the governor in the last couple weeks frankly signaling greater concern that these measures are going in the wrong direction,” said MDH Commissioner Jan Malcolm. That’s why the governor ordered masks be worn in indoor public places, she said.

Officials said any effect of the mask mandate that took effect Saturday won’t show up in data until at least three weeks from now.

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If Minnesotans heed social distancing and masking guidelines, rates of transmission could change favorably within a few weeks, officials said. If not, indicators could get worse and officials may consider tightening restrictions as some jurisdictions have done and others are considering.

“There could be a time when we do need to dial back if the things that we’re seeing continue to go in an unfavorable manner,” Ehresmann said.

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Around the web

  • Researchers are coming to a consensus that COVID-19 is spread primarily by respiratory droplets — not touching surfaces. This author argues we’re performing “hygiene theater” as we go to great lengths to disinfect things, but not take precautions that actually prevent coronavirus’ spread. From the Atlantic.
  • Not everybody is pessimistic about a vaccine getting things back to normal. Here’s an interview with an expert from the Scripps Research Institute. San Diego Tribune.