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The daily coronavirus update: four more deaths; 925 new cases in Minnesota

The seven-day positivity average, which lags by a week, is 4.4 percent. That is down from 4.8 percent the prior week.

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.

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Here are the latest updates from September 21, 2020:

90,942 confirmed cases; 1,969 deaths

Four more Minnesotans have died of COVID-19, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) said Monday, for a total of 1,969.

Of the people whose deaths were announced Monday, one was in their 90s, two were in their 70s and one was in their 60s. Two of the four deaths announced Monday were among residents of long-term care facilities. Of the 1,969 COVID-19 deaths reported in Minnesota, 1,425 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 Monday there have been 90,942 total confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Minnesota. The number of confirmed cases is up 925 from Sunday’s count and is based on 16,938 new tests. 

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The seven-day positivity average, which lags by a week, is 4.4 percent. That is down from 4.8 percent the prior week. Jan Malcolm, MDH commissioner, told reporters Monday the state’s positivity rate has declined for 10 days. The state generally says a 5 percent rate or above is a concerning sign of disease spread.

Since the start of the outbreak, 7,199 Minnesotans have been hospitalized and 255 are currently in the hospital, 128 in intensive care. You can find more information about Minnesota’s current ICU usage and capacity here.

Of the 90,942 confirmed positive cases in Minnesota, 82,174 are believed to have recovered.

More information on cases can be found here.

State to open free saliva testing site in Duluth

The state said Monday it plans to open a COVID-19 testing site on Wednesday at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center, where any Minnesota resident can get a free saliva test for the disease. 

The state plans to open up to nine additional testing locations around the state. The Duluth site is the first, and it will be open five days a week, from Wednesday through Sunday. In a news release, MDH encouraged people to register for an appointment in advance, but said the site will take walk-ins. Appointments can be made online and the state said parking in the lot outside of the site will be free for 30 minutes. 

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Anybody can get a test, even if they don’t have symptoms. If people have insurance, the state will bill the insurance company. But if a person has no insurance, or if their provider doesn’t cover the full cost, the state will pay for the difference, MDH said.

“While testing alone will not suppress the virus, higher testing volumes are a central part of our strategy to manage the virus,” Malcolm said in the news release.

The state high school league approved football and volleyball, but MDH says such gatherings are risky

Malcolm told reporters Monday that from a “pure kind of public health risk protection perspective” she would prefer prep football and volleyball not go on this fall, despite the Minnesota State High School League reversing itself to approve a season.

In August, the board of directors that governs prep sports voted to delay volleyball and football until the spring because of the pandemic. But the MSHSL changed direction Monday, approving a 10-week football season with six regular season games and an 11-week volleyball season. Practice for both starts Sept. 28. The playoff format for football is yet to be determined.

Malcolm said the health department understands the state league has a challenge in balancing “various perspectives and factors” when deciding how to proceed with sports, and Malcolm said she believes sports are important to people and that outdoor events are safer than indoor ones.

Still, Malcolm said “viral activity” is at a high enough level in the state “that we prefer not to have events that would just gather more people and create more opportunity for transmission.”

“It’s a risk calculation,” she said. “There are certainly tradeoffs, and risks and benefits. We might weight the scales a little bit differently in terms of that risk balance.”

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MDH’s coronavirus website:

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