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The daily coronavirus update: 21st consecutive day of more than 1,000 new cases in Minnesota

Nineteen more Minnesotans have died of COVID-19, the Minnesota Department of Health said Wednesday. 

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 28, 2020:

139,444 cases; 2,387 deaths

Nineteen more Minnesotans have died of COVID-19, the Minnesota Department of Health said Wednesday, for a total of 2,387. 

Of the deaths announced Wednesday were two people in their 70s, 13 people in their 80s and four people in their 90s. Sixteen of the 19 deaths announced Wednesday were residents of long-term care facilities.

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One of the recently deceased was a person who attended a wedding — one that had an outdoor ceremony and an indoor reception, health officials said. So far, 71 known outbreaks have been associated with weddings in the state, which have together contributed 674 primary COVID-19 cases to the state’s totals, not including secondary infections.

MDH also said Wednesday there have been 139,444 total cases of COVID-19 in Minnesota. The number of positives is up 1,908 from Tuesday’s count and is based on 17,976 new tests. Tuesday is the 21st consecutive day Minnesota has reported more than 1,000 new daily cases.

The seven-day positivity average remains at 6.5 percent— above the 5 percent “caution” threshold. That number lags by a week and officials said they expect it to increase given recent case and test volume. You can find the seven-day positive case average here.

Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm likened the situation to an approaching winter storm. When that happens, she said, “we ask people to stay off the roads not just because their car will be the one to get stuck in the ditch, but because the fewer people we have on the roads, the easier it is for the snowplow drivers and emergency vehicles to keep the roads clear and keep people safe.” 

And just as with those warnings, Malcolm said, Minnesotans need to do their part to keep people safe during the pandemic. “We need people to help us with this COVID storm,” she said — by staying home, keeping social distance, staying home when sick and wearing a mask.

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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 166 Minnesotans are hospitalized in intensive care with COVID-19, and 514 are in the hospital with COVID-19 not in intensive care. Hospitalizations have been on the rise in recent weeks, and in just the last week, the number of people who are in the hospital has increased by 103, Malcolm said. You can find more information about Minnesota’s current ICU usage and capacity here.

More information on cases can be found here.

MDH stresses following CDC guidance on Halloween and voting

Infectious Disease Director Kris Erhesmann urged Minnesotans to keep Centers for Disease Control guidelines in mind when planning Halloween festivities. Activities like carving pumpkins with members of your household or hosting a virtual costume contest are relatively safe, but traditional house-to-house trick-or-treating presents more risk, she said. 

Wearing a costume mask is no substitute for a cloth mask, and given the trajectory of COVID-19 cases in Minnesota, Ehresmann said, and getting together with a group of people — even a small one — is riskier now than it was a month ago.

The Centers for Disease Control has released guidance on making Halloween activities safer that can be found here.

Less than a week out from the Nov. 3 election, Ehresmann also pointed to resources for making a safer trip to the polls, and what to do if you’ve tested positive or come into contact with a case of COVID-19 and need to vote. More information can be found here.

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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