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The daily coronavirus update: 904 new cases; Minnesota seeing ‘more and more’ outbreaks connected to workplaces, social events

The Minnesota Department of Health also said Monday that seven more Minnesotans have died of COVID-19. 

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 28, 2020:

97,638 confirmed cases; 2,015 deaths 

Seven more Minnesotans have died of COVID-19, the Minnesota Department of Health said Monday, for a total of 2,015. 

Of the people whose deaths were announced Monday, one was in their 90s, one was in their 80s, two were in their 70s, one was in their 60s and two were in their 50s. Two people whose deaths were announced Sunday were residents of a long-term care facility. Of the 2,015 COVID-19 deaths reported in Minnesota, 1,447 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 97,638 total confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Minnesota. The number of positives is up 904 from Sunday’s count and is based on 22,162 new tests. The seven-day positivity average, which lags by a week, is 5.4 percent. That is up from 4.4 percent the prior week. The state generally says a 5 percent rate or above is a concerning sign of disease spread. Kris Ehresmann, the MDH infectious disease director, said the state’s rolling average has been above 5 percent for two consecutive days.

Since the start of the outbreak, 7,546 Minnesotans have been hospitalized.

On Thursday, MDH changed the way it reports hospitalizations in Minnesota. Instead of reporting the number of people who are currently hospitalized and in intensive care, the agency is reporting the number of new admissions to the hospital and the ICU each day. The state reported two people were admitted to the ICU and five people were admitted to the hospital. You can find more information about Minnesota’s current ICU usage and capacity here.

Of the 97,638 confirmed positive cases in Minnesota, 87,330 are believed to have recovered.

More information on cases can be found here.

State details outbreaks in workplaces, social events

Ehresmann told reporters the state is seeing “more and more” outbreaks in workplaces and social settings. For a workplace, that means three or more COVID-19 cases among employees. 

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Ehresmann says there have been 89 case clusters in businesses regulated by the state’s Department of Agriculture, including vegetable processing plants, dairy plants, bakeries, grocery stores and delis. There have also been 40 clusters or outbreaks in meat processing plants, 182 clusters in manufacturing plants and 246 clusters in “general businesses of all types,” Ehresmann said. 

As of Sept. 24, there have been 77 bars and restaurants investigated for possible outbreaks in which COVID-19 was spread to patrons. Of those, 47 establishments had enough cases to be counted as an outbreak, which means their names were released to the media. 

Ehresmann said there have been 37 outbreaks associated with weddings, 11 tied to funerals, 22 connected to gyms and 62 related to other social settings. “One event can affect so many people,” Ehresmann said. 

MDH: ‘No reason to doubt’ reports of threats, racist slurs made to COVID-19 surveyors

Dan Huff, an assistant MDH commissioner, told reporters Monday he has “no reason to doubt” federal health officials who said they were blocked by cars and threatened by three men, one of which had a gun, in the town of Eitzen.

The CDC pulled a COVID-19 survey team out of the state after the incident and reports of verbal abuse that included residents shouting racial and ethnic slurs at the surveyors, the Star Tribune reported. The team was offering free testing in an effort to better understand disease spread in the state.

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The mayor of Eitzen has rejected the account of health surveyors, writing a letter saying nobody was threatened during the incident. Mayor Jeffrey Adamson said a city official and two other locals met the COVID-19 team to “verify their identification” after the city received calls from a concerned resident about people driving a vehicle with California license plates making door-to-door stops saying they were conducting a COVID-19 survey.

Adamson said they called the Houston County Sheriff’s Department to confirm who the health officials were and then left the surveyors to continue their work. Adamson said a fire department radio in a holster may have been mistaken for a gun, and said there was no aggressive behavior. 

“Two vehicles driven by the city official and residents were parked on either side of the Covid-19 team’s vehicle, but it was never blocked,” Adamson said. “The city official asked the Covid-19 team for identification, which was presented.”

Adamson also said health officials never notified the city that COVID-19 surveyors would be in town. Huff said while the state does outreach across the state to let people know broadly about such COVID-19 surveys, part of research methodology involves not letting people know exactly where they are going.

Huff also said the incident in Eitzen, which is on the Iowa border, was only one of many that “collectively caused the CDC to remove their teams from the state.”

“The staff were traumatized by many events that they experienced,” Huff said.

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Around the web

  • India’s confirmed coronavirus tally has reached 6 million, reports the Associated Press. The country is second to the U.S. in number of reported cases.

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

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