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The daily coronavirus update: nine more deaths in Minnesota; cases up by 617

Minnesota’s seven-day average case positivity rate rose to 5.2%, up from 4.9% a week ago. MDH considers above 5% a concerning trend.

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 5:

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57,779 confirmed cases; 1,629 deaths

Nine more Minnesotans have died of COVID-19, the Minnesota Department of Health said Wednesday, for a total of 1,629.

Of the people whose deaths were announced Wednesday, two were in their 90s, three were in their 80s, two were in their 70s and two were in their 60s. Four of the nine deaths announced Wednesday were among residents of long-term care facilities. Of the 1,629 COVID-19 deaths reported in Minnesota, 1,237 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 Wednesday there have been 57,779 total confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Minnesota. The number of confirmed cases is up 617 from Tuesday’s count and is based on 11,720 new tests. Minnesota’s seven-day average case positivity rate rose to 5.2 percent, up from 5.1 percent Monday and 4.9 percent a week ago. MDH has said crossing the 5 percent threshold represents a concerning trend. You can find the seven-day positive case average over time here.

Since the start of the outbreak, 5,373 Minnesotans have been hospitalized and 305 are currently in the hospital, 152 in intensive care. Hospitalizations have been on the rise recently, but saw a net drop of 23 Tuesday, including a net drop of seven ICU patients. You can find more information about Minnesota’s current ICU usage and capacity here.

Of the 57,779 confirmed positive cases in Minnesota, 51,223 are believed to have recovered.

More information on cases can be found here.

MDH urges caution surrounding Sturgis

Sturgis — the rowdy, annual 10-day motorcycle rally held in South Dakota — starts Friday. Many, MDH staff included, are worried about the event’s potential to spread COVID-19.

Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm called the decision to go ahead with the rally, which draws attendees from all over the country, at a time when cases are on the rise in South Dakota and elsewhere, disappointing.

“It’s a pretty ripe environment for further spread and folks bringing the virus back to their home communities,” Malcolm said. “We’ve definitely been doing everything we can to encourage, especially people in higher risk groups, to really think seriously about the wisdom of attending, and certainly if they do attend to try to avoid those prolonged contacts in close quarters.”

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Malcolm encouraged people who do go to Sturgis to consider quarantining upon their arrival home, and also to get tested seven days after returning, whether symptomatic or not.

Those who pick up COVID from unknown source often exhibit risky behavior

More than a third of Minnesotans testing positive for COVID-19 report that they don’t know where they picked up the virus, a share that’s been rising in recent weeks and is now at levels MDH considers concerning. This category is referred to as community spread.

Asked what type of activities people in this category reported engaging in, Malcolm said many report multiple potential sources of exposure.

“So they’ll say within the last week before they got tested they had been to several restaurants and a couple bars and a sporting event and a concert and a party in their backyard,” she said.

MDH says immunizations are critical

MDH is encouraging Minnesotans to stay on top of their vaccinations, whether it’s routine childhood shots, adult vaccinations or annual flu vaccines.

Child vaccination rates dropped after the pandemic began and have seen a slight uptick since. Malcolm said there’s still work to do to get child and adolescent vaccination rates back to normal.

Vaccinations are important for maintaining the baseline health of the population. Public health experts worry that flu season could compound another wave of COVID-19 cases in the fall and winter.

“It’s going to be so critical for Minnesotans to get their flu shots this fall, as a real significant way of helping us to manage health care capacity in preparation for what we expect to be additional cases of COVID-19 this fall as well,” Malcolm said.

Public health investigates executive order violations

MDH has received 463 complaints about potential violations of executive orders on masking, social distancing and capacity limits in restaurants and bars, Malcolm said. The department has referred 166 to local public health and others with enforcement jurisdiction around the state. Those 166 have been followed up on, Malcolm said.

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MDH’s coronavirus website:

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