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The daily coronavirus update: Rodeo attendee had infectious case of COVID-19; cases at child care centers

The Minnesota Department of Health also announced that six more Minnesotans had died of COVID-19, for a total of 1,600 since the start of the pandemic.

COVID-19
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.

Here are the latest updates from July 31, 2020:

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54,463 confirmed cases; 1,600 deaths

Six more Minnesotans have died of COVID-19, the Minnesota Department of Health said Friday, for a total of 1,600.

Of the people whose deaths were announced Friday, two were in their 90s, two were in their 80s, one was in their 70s and one was in their late 20s — officials said the person in their 20s had underlying health conditions. Four of the six deaths announced Friday were among residents of long-term care facilities. Of the 1,600 COVID-19 deaths reported in Minnesota, 1,223 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 54,463 total confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Minnesota. The number of confirmed cases is up 771 from Thursday’s count and is based on 16,660 new tests. You can find the seven-day positive case average here.

Since the start of the outbreak, 5,155 Minnesotans have been hospitalized and 312 are currently in the hospital, 151 in intensive care. The number of ICU patients increased by 10 and is now at its highest point since June 27. You can find more information about Minnesota’s current ICU usage and capacity here.

Of the 54,463 confirmed positive cases in Minnesota, 47,289 are believed to have recovered.

More information on cases can be found here.

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Officials say an infectious person attended large rodeo gathering

MDH said Friday that a person who attended the North Star Stampede in Effie last weekend had COVID-19, and the agency is urging people who were at the Itasca County rodeo to limit their public contact.

Several thousand people attended the outdoor event, which was held in defiance of Gov. Tim Walz’s executive orders limiting the size of public gatherings. An MDH news release says they’re trying to determine who may have been in contact with the person, who developed symptoms July 27. People are infectious several days before their COVID-19 symptoms start.

Kris Ehresmann, MDH infectious disease director, told reporters that health officials tried to work with the event’s organizers “to have a best possible outcome” but ultimately did not prevent the rodeo from happening.

Attorney General Keith Ellison said Friday his office is seeking civil penalties from organizer North Star Ranch of up to $25,000 for each determined violation of Walz’s regulations as well as other costs and penalties. In a news release, Ellison’s office said the company “carelessly allowed large crowds” without taking safety precautions.

Prior to the event, a rodeo leader posted to their Facebook page: “The North Star Stampede will take place with no spectators.  If people would like to come and protest against this ridiculous Government Over Reach, feel free to do so, I will not stand in the way of peoples ‘Right to Assemble.’”

Protests over the killing of George Floyd did not appear to cause a large outbreak and Ehresmann said she hoped for a similar outcome for the rodeo. Many at the protests, however, wore masks. “In this particular situation we’re very aware that there was no social distancing and that people were not wearing masks,” Ehresmann said.

More than 230 child care businesses have had at least one COVID-19 case

Health officials say 257 child care staff and 108 children at their programs have tested positive for COVID-19 so far in the outbreak, according to data released Thursday. A total of 233 businesses have had at least one case among staff or children. Of those, 162 programs, or 69 percent, have had only one case, and 58 programs, or 25 percent, have had between two and four cases. Just 13 programs have had more than five cases.

Ehresmann said MDH estimates that 0.14 percent of kids and 1.2 percent of staff in the state have had lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases.

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Ehresmann said she finds that data “encouraging” as the state prepares to send many children back into K-12 classrooms in the fall. A recent study found infected children may carry as much viral load as infected adults, though Ehresmann said that is not the only factor tied to transmission. “Certainly viral load is important and certainly infectiousness is important, but I think we’ve been fortunate that we’ve not seen a lot of transmission within our child care settings,” she said.

Today on MinnPost

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Around the web

  • Dr. Anthony Fauci is optimistic a coronavirus vaccine will be widely available, reports the Associated Press.
  • As a bevy of experts told The Daily Beast this week the lockdowns, shifting hot spots and surges in deaths and hospitalizations that threaten local health systems will probably last about two to three years total.
  • In less than five months, coronavirus fatalities have already outstripped four of Alabama’s 10 leading causes of death, including influenza, in 2017, reports the Montgomery Advertiser.
  • From the New York Times: Why is there no consensus about reopening schools?

MDH’s coronavirus website: https://www.health.state.mn.us/diseases/coronavirus/index.html

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