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The daily coronavirus update: 6 more deaths; Minnesota’s case positivity average declines

The Minnesota Department of Health said Monday that confirmed cases are up 564 from Sunday’s count, based on 12,690 new tests.

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 August 17, 2020:

65,716 confirmed cases; 1,712 deaths 

Six more Minnesotans have died of COVID-19, the Minnesota Department of Health said Monday, for a total of 1,712.

Of the people whose deaths were announced Monday, three were in their 90s, one was in their 80s, one was in their 70s and one was in their 60s. One person whose death was announced Monday was a resident of a long-term care facility. Of the 1,712 COVID-19 deaths reported in Minnesota, 1,280 have been among residents of long-term care.

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

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MDH also said Monday there have been 65,716 total confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Minnesota. The number of confirmed cases is up 564 from Sunday’s count and is based on 12,690 new tests. You can find the seven-day positive case average here.

Since the start of the outbreak, 5,886 Minnesotans have been hospitalized and 286 are currently in the hospital, 155 of which are in intensive care. You can find more information about Minnesota’s current ICU usage and capacity here.

Of the 65,716 confirmed positive cases in Minnesota, 58,859 are believed to have recovered.

More information on cases can be found here.

Case positivity average dips, but effect of mask mandate hard to quantify

Minnesota may have passed the peak of its latest uptick in COVID-19 infections, MDH Commissioner Jan Malcolm told reporters Monday. The state has experienced a trend of ups-and-downs throughout the pandemic, rather than a steady upswing and decline. “It does look at present that we maybe have kind of reached the crest of the latest wave and in the last couple of weeks at least have been heading down,” Malcolm said.

Minnesota’s seven-day positivity average has dipped to 4.9 percent said Malcolm, which is down from 5.2 percent last week and below 5 percent for the first time since July 23. Officials say a rate above 5 percent is a critical threshold for tracking the severity of the outbreak and the state’s response. 

Hospitalizations are at their lowest point since July 26 and have declined every day since Friday. Malcolm said that the slight improvement in Minnesota has coincided with Gov. Tim Walz’s mandate requiring mask use in most indoor spaces, though she said it is hard to track exactly what effect any health policy has had on the outbreak.

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State urges bull-riding organizers to abide by COVID-19 rules

As organizers of a bull-riding event in Wadena County consider whether to hold the gathering, health officials say they’re urging compliance with public health regulations but not planning to try and prevent an event from happening. 

The Detroit Lakes Tribune reported some people frustrated with Walz’s health rules are planning a protest to support the Nimrod Bull Bash, set to take place over Labor Day weekend. The event’s organizers also complained that the restrictions constitute government overreach and the paper reported the event brings thousands of guests each year for the three-day event.

Leaders of a rodeo in Effie, which was held in defiance of Walz’s limitations on the number of people who can attend an event, were later sued by Attorney General Keith Ellison. But while Minnesota warned the rodeo organizers and tried to convince them not to hold the event, the state did not step in to preemptively block it in any way. “I think the challenge is, until something has happened, it’s hard to take action in advance,” said Kris Ehresmann, MDH’s infectious disease director.

Malcolm said two people with COVID-19 attended the Effie rodeo, though Ehresmann said their information is limited to what people are willing to share with the state’s case investigators.

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Around the web

  • Taxpayers spent nearly $66 million building an emergency coronavirus hospital with 2,750 beds at a convention center in Chicago. But so far, just 38 patients have been treated there, reports the Chicago Sun Times.
  • In Arizona, a school district was forced to cancel in-person classes after teachers refused to show up, saying they did not feel safe returning, reports the Arizona Republic.
  • From the Los Angeles Times, a survey of 45 Southern California school districts found profound differences in distance learning among children attending school in high-poverty communities and those in more affluent ones. The inequities threaten to exacerbate wide and persistent disparities in public education that shortchange students of color.

MDH’s coronavirus website:

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