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The daily coronavirus update: Case positivity ratio continues climb; new guidance for long-term care facilities

The Minnesota Department of Health announced Monday that three more Minnesotans had died of COVID-19, bringing the total to 1,660 since the pandemic began.

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 10:

61,516 confirmed cases; 1,660 deaths

Three more Minnesotans have died of COVID-19, the Minnesota Department of Health said Monday, for a total of 1,660.

Of the people whose deaths were announced Monday, one was in their 90s, one was in their 80s and one was in their 60s. One of the three deaths announced Monday was of a resident of a long-term care facility. Of the 1,660 COVID-19 deaths reported in Minnesota, 1,250 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 61,516 total confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Minnesota. The number of confirmed cases is up 618 from Sunday’s count and is based on 12,787 new tests. The seven-day positivity average continues to inch up and is now at 5.4 percent, up from 5.2 percent a week ago. MDH officials have said crossing the 5 percent threshold represents a concerning trend. You can find the seven-day positive case average over time here.

The median age of coronavirus cases in Minnesota has remained at 36 in recent weeks.

Since the start of the outbreak, 5,606 Minnesotans have been hospitalized and 320 are currently in the hospital, 159 in intensive care. You can find more information about Minnesota’s current ICU usage and capacity here.

Of the 61,516 confirmed positive cases in Minnesota, 54,364 are believed to have recovered.

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More information on cases can be found here.

New guidance for visiting long-term care facilities

MDH released new guidance for opening up long-term care facilities for visits Monday, effective Aug. 29.

With the pandemic in its fifth month in Minnesota, public health officials emphasized the importance of balancing residents’ mental health and physical health, offering guidelines for visiting amid a recent increase in cases in senior living.

Under new guidance for allowing visitors, MDH outlines two levels for the operation of long-term care facilities where visitors are concerned.

MDH recommends Level 1, a higher level of caution with stricter limits on visitors, when there are active cases or when there have been exposures from cases in the past 28 days.

Facilities may — but are not required to — move to Level 2, which loosens some restrictions on visitors and allows some non-essential trips outside the facility, when there have been no exposures in at least 28 days, among other factors. Facilities are also encouraged to consider local infection rates in making this decision. Long-term care facilities must move back to Level 1 if a new case occurs.

More information on the new guidance can be found here.

Over the course of the pandemic, a quarter of assisted living facilities have had a documented coronavirus outbreak, meaning a resident or staffer has tested positive for the virus. In the last 28 days, 9 percent have had an outbreak.

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When it comes to skilled nursing, whose residents are more vulnerable to coronavirus, 54 percent of facilities in the state have had an outbreak since the pandemic began, and under 30 percent have had an outbreak in the last 28 days, Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said.

The drop-off in visitors to long-term care facilities has an alarming side effect. It’s often visitors that identify when a resident isn’t getting adequate care. The number of maltreatment reports regulators have received since March this year has dropped by 20 percent compared to 2019. MDH says that would not be expected to happen by coincidence during the pandemic.

Today on MinnPost

  • Checking in with local governments on how they’re spending CARES Act money.
  • Asking yourself how long it’s been since this all started? Us too. 
  • As always, a look at the numbers on the MinnPost COVID-19 dashboard.

Around the web

MDH’s coronavirus website:

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