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The daily coronavirus update: fewer new cases; community spread driving long-term care infections

Four more Minnesotans have died of COVID-19, the Minnesota Department of Health said Friday, while the number of confirmed cases is up 545 from Thursday’s count.

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 7, 2020:

59,185 confirmed cases; 1,640 deaths 

Four more Minnesotans have died of COVID-19, the Minnesota Department of Health said Friday, for a total of 1,640.

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Of the people whose deaths were announced Friday, one was in their 90s, two were in their 80s and one was in their 50s. One person whose death was announced Friday was a resident of a long-term care facility and one person was a resident of a group home or residential behavioral health facility. Of the 1,640 COVID-19 deaths reported in Minnesota, 1,241 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 59,185 total confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Minnesota. The number of confirmed cases is up 545 from Thursday’s count and is based on 15,924 new tests. You can find the seven-day positive case average here.

While the number of new reported cases Friday is significantly fewer than other recent counts, MDH Commissioner Jan Malcolm said the dip doesn’t signify a long-term trend, could be a normal day-to-day fluctuation in viral spread.

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Since the start of the outbreak, 5,458 Minnesotans have been hospitalized and 300 are currently in the hospital, 155 in intensive care. This is a net reduction in hospitalized patients of 19. You can find more information about Minnesota’s current ICU usage and capacity here.

Of the 59,185 confirmed positive cases in Minnesota, 51,940 are believed to have recovered.

More information on cases can be found here.

Community spread driving long-term care infections

Health officials said Friday the uptick in Minnesotans, particularly young people, getting sick at social gatherings is spreading the disease to vulnerable people at long-term care facilities.

Dr. Ruth Lynfield, the state epidemiologist, said health care workers and staff are either engaging in riskier social behavior or getting infected by others who are going to bars, restaurants or social events and then unknowingly bringing the disease to long-term care facilities.

In March, 87 percent of staff and health care workers who caught COVID-19 were exposed to the disease by residents. In April it was 54 percent. In June and July, more than 50 percent of health care workers or staff were exposed to the disease by members of their household and social contacts, and more than 20 percent were exposed by a coworker. Exposure from residents was roughly 5 to 6 percent. “So the staff are clearly having more exposure in the community than in long-term care facilities themselves,” Lynfield said.

While outbreaks in Minnesota’s long-term care facilities have improved in recent months, Lynfield said that progress is “fragile” and could be at risk. She urged those who have regular contact with people more at risk of serious cases of COVID-19 to be extra careful in their precautions to not catch the disease.

There have been 414 assisted living facilities that have reported at least one COVID-19 case among staff or residents, and 161 of those have active outbreaks. Health officials said 91 percent of assisted living facilities in Minnesota have not had cases in the last 28 days. 

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There have been 198 nursing homes that have had a COVID-19 outbreak, and 106 have active outbreaks. About 71 percent of nursing homes have not had any cases in the last 28 days.

So far there have been 4,666 known COVID-19 cases among residents of long-term care facilities and 3,365 cases among staff. Long-term care facilities include assisted living, nursing homes, but also other congregate care settings like group homes and chemical dependency facilities. 

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