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The daily coronavirus update: 13 more deaths; winter mental-health concerns

In normal years, many Minnesotans struggle more with mental health over the winter. The pandemic is expected to worsen that.

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 October 23, 2020:

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129,863 cases; 2,314 deaths

Thirteen more Minnesotans have died of COVID-19, the Minnesota Department of Health said Friday, for a total of 2,314.

Of the people whose deaths were announced Friday, one person was in their 40s, two in their 50s, two in their 60s, three in their 70s, four in their 80s and one in their 90s. Two of the 13 deaths announced Friday were of residents of long-term care facilities.

MDH also said Friday there have been 129,863 total cases of COVID-19 in Minnesota. The number of positives is up 1,711 from Thursday’s count and is based on 26,742 new tests. You can find the seven-day positive case average here.

The increase in recent cases reflects more transmission of COVID-19 across the state — not just that more tests are being done, Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said Friday.

The current caseload and death toll combines Minnesotans with positive PCR tests and positive antigen tests approved under a Food and Drug emergency authorization use. MDH added antigen tests to case counts on Oct. 14.

The most recent data available show 163 Minnesotans are hospitalized in intensive care with COVID-19, and 421 are in the hospital with COVID-19 not in intensive care. You can find more information about Minnesota’s current ICU usage and capacity here.

While hospitalization numbers are still lower than they were in May, the numbers are climbing, Malcolm said.

More information on cases can be found here.

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It could be a long winter, and mental health resources available

This could be a particularly tough winter in Minnesota, said Tai Mendenhall, a licensed marriage and family therapist from the University of Minnesota Medical Reserve Corps on the MDH call Friday.

In normal years, many Minnesotans struggle more with mental health over the winter, when the state is cold and dark much of the time.

This year could be particularly hard, with stress over the coronavirus and how to navigate family holiday expectations in the middle of the pandemic, Mendenhall said.

“Just about any single symptom that is pretty normal in the winter, like a scratchy throat, is going to be connected to these worries — do I have COVID? How many people have I infected? Am I going to die?” he said.

Mendenhall urged Minnesotans who are struggling to connect with others — even if it’s a weekly Zoom call with friends or family, and seek professional help if they need it.

Malcolm stressed that free phone support is available to anyone experiencing stress through COVID Cares, a collaboration between the Minnesota Psychiatric Society, Minnesota Psychological Association, Minnesota Black Psychologists and Mental Health Minnesota. The phone line, reachable at 833-HERE4MN (437-3466), is available from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day. (Here’s a MinnPost piece from over the summer on COVID Cares.)

More information about mental health, substance abuse and other support is available here.

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Update on multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children — and adults

MDH gave its monthly update on multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C), a rare but serious condition believed to be connected to COVID-19.

State Epidemiologist Dr. Ruth Lynfield said Minnesota has had 28 documented cases of MIS-C in the course of the pandemic, and no deaths out of more than 20,000 cases of COVID-19 among Minnesotans ages 0 to 19. Eighty-eight percent of these cases tested positive for COVID-19, and the remainder were exposed to a known positive case.

Two-thirds of children diagnosed with MIS-C were previously healthy, and all were hospitalized. More than half required intensive care. All had fevers, 86 percent had gastrointestinal symptoms, more than 70 percent had evidence of heart involvement, including echocardiogram abnormalities.

The age of children with MIS-C ranged from six months to 16 years, and the average age was 5.5 years. Black and Hispanic children are disproportionately affected.

Lynfield also called attention to a Centers for Disease Control report that came out earlier this month about multisystem inflammatory syndrome in adults (MIS-A). Twenty-seven cases of MIS-A have been identified in adults in the U.S. and U.K.

Adults with MIS-A reported cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, dermatologic and neurological symptoms, and that these symptoms began between two and five weeks after acute COVID-19 infection.

Although rare, MIS-A is potentially severe, so Lynfield said people with potential symptoms should be evaluated.

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MDH’s coronavirus website: https://www.health.state.mn.us/diseases/coronavirus/index.html

MDH’s phone line for COVID-19 questions, Mon.-Fri. 9 a.m. to 4 p.m: 651-297-1304