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The daily coronavirus update: 7 more deaths; health officials concerned over prospect of sports resuming

The Minnesota Department of Health also said Wednesday that the number of confirmed cases is up 462 from Tuesday’s count.

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 September 16:

85,813 total cases; 1,933 deaths

Seven more Minnesotans have died of COVID-19, the Minnesota Department of Health said Wednesday, for a total of 1,933.

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Of the people whose deaths were announced Wednesday, one was over 100 years old, two were in their 80s, three were in their 60s and one was in their 50s. Three of the seven deaths announced Wednesday were among residents of long-term care facilities. Of the 1,933 COVID-19 deaths reported in Minnesota, 1,402 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 Wednesday there have been 85,813 total confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Minnesota. The number of confirmed cases is up 462 from Tuesday’s count and is based on 9,910 new tests. The degree to which cases have — or haven’t — jumped in the wake of Labor Day weekend won’t be known for a couple more weeks. Cases jumped after the Fourth of July weekend.

The seven-day positivity average, which lags by a week, is 4.8 percent. The rate has been below the 5-percent threshold that represents a level of concern for days. You can find the seven-day positive case average over time here.

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Hospitalization numbers remain stable. Since the start of the outbreak, 7,019 Minnesotans have been hospitalized and 244 are currently in the hospital, 136 in intensive care. You can find more information about Minnesota’s current ICU usage and capacity here.

Of the 85,813 confirmed positive cases in Minnesota, 79,583 are believed to have recovered.

More information on cases can be found here.

MDH starts COVID-19 survey initiative

MDH has started an initiative to survey households across Minnesota to learn more about how the virus has spread and how much of the population has been exposed to it.

In the second half of this month, surveyors will visit randomly selected households within 180 neighborhoods around the state, said Dr. Ruth Lynfield, the state epidemiologist.

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The survey includes a household questionnaire and free COVID-19 testing for the household, including a nasal swab to determine whether a person is currently infected with COVID-19, as well as an antibody test to detect whether a person has previously had the virus. Participation is voluntary.

“We really hope people will participate if these teams knock on their door,” Lynfield said.

MinnPost wrote about this study and other MDH research plans to learn about the spread of COVID-19 in June.

Health officials express concern over prospect of sports resuming

Big Ten football teams will play in 2020 after all, the conference announced Wednesday.

The Minnesota High School League also hinted Wednesday it may restart the football and volleyball seasons.

Asked about the potential public health impact of such decisions, Infectious Disease Director Kris Ehresmann said that when she puts her mom hat on — she has kids who participated in school activities — she understands it’s tough for families to see sports suspended.

“The public health hat, when I have that on, I recognize what we’re seeing with disease transmission and that is really concerning,” Ehresmann said. It’s not just the sports, she said, but the social activities that go along with them.

As of Sept. 9, Ehresmann said 1,452 confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been associated with sports activities in Minnesota, including 888 cases among adults. Of 62 clusters, 15 were associated with volleyball, nine with soccer, nine with hockey, nine with football and six with volleyball. As a result, 3,348 household contacts were recommended for quarantine.

CDC releases vaccine playbook

The Centers for Disease Control has released a 57-page playbook to states in order to assist with COVID-19 vaccine planning. State plans are due back to the CDC on Oct. 16.

“I do want to acknowledge that the document itself says that it is not known yet which vaccines will be available, in what volume, at what time, with what efficacy and with what storage and handling requirements, so while this document will be very helpful to us and we’ve been eagerly awaiting it, there is still a lot that is unknown and that it does not provide for us,” Ehresmann said.

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The playbook outlines three phases of vaccine rollout. The first, which anticipates limited supply, focuses on health care workers and those at risk of severe illness. When a larger number of doses are available, it would start vaccinating the general population. Phase 3 would involve sufficient supply for the whole population.

CDC Director Robert Redfield said Wednesday he doesn’t anticipate a vaccine being widely available to the American public until the second or third quarter of 2021, the Washington Post reported.

The CDC playbook also discusses setting up a team to plan COVID-19 vaccine allocation, and Ehresmann said equity will be considered.

One more thing

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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