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The daily coronavirus update: no cases tied to Trump’s Duluth rally so far

Three more Minnesotans have died of COVID-19, the Minnesota Department of Health said Monday, for a total of 2,083.

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 5, 2020:

104,799 confirmed cases; 2,083 deaths 

Three more Minnesotans have died of COVID-19, the Minnesota Department of Health said Monday, for a total of 2,083.

Of the people whose deaths were announced Monday, two were in their 90s and one was in their 80s. One person whose death was announced Monday was a resident of a long-term care facility. Of the 2,083 COVID-19 deaths reported in Minnesota, 1,487 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 104,799 total confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Minnesota. The number of confirmed cases is up 973 from Sunday’s count and is based on 23,061 new tests. Minnesota’s seven-day positive case average, which lags by a week, is 5.2 percent. That is down from 5.4 percent the prior week. The state generally says a 5 percent rate or above is a concerning sign of disease spread. MDH Commissioner Jan Malcolm said the state’s rolling average has been above 5 percent for nine consecutive days.

Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 7,940 hospitalizations and 2,189 ICU admissions in Minnesota due to COVID-19. There are currently 367 people hospitalized with COVID-19, 123 of which are in intensive care. More information on COVID-related hospitalizations in Minnesota can be found here. For information on current ICU usage and capacity, click here.

Of the 104,799 confirmed positive cases in Minnesota, 94,416 no longer need to be isolated, meaning they are no longer believed to be contagious.

More information on cases can be found here.

Fairview tells state COVID care capacity will remain similar despite closure of Bethesda

Malcolm told reporters that the CEO of Fairview Health promised the state his health care organization’s capacity to treat COVID-19 patients would remain similar even after downsizing announced Monday

Fairview said it would close 16 clinics in Minnesota and Wisconsin, and shutter Bethesda Hospital in St. Paul, a 90-bed facility converted in March to exclusively serve people sick with coronavirus. Fairview’s COVID-19 care center will be moved to St. Joseph’s hospital in St. Paul.

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“We are feeling reassured that capacity is going to remain about what it has been in total,” Malcolm said. 

Fairview reported 900 jobs will be cut in the downsizing and said the hospital system lost $163 million in the first six months of the year. James Hereford, president and CEO of Fairview, said in a statement that the “staggering” financial challenges were exacerbated by COVID-19, but also said the pandemic “further exposed the profound challenges we face and the unsustainable economics of healthcare today.”  

Bethesda Hospital will be leased to Ramsey County and converted into a shelter this winter for people living homeless.

The Pioneer Press has more on the changes to the health system.

MDH: Voting in person carries the same risk as a trip to the grocery store

Malcolm told reporters that she would compare the COVID-19 risk of voting in person to making a trip to the grocery store. With the Nov. 3 election in sight, she said the safest way to vote is by mail, or by dropping your ballot off in a drop box. 

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Malcolm said people who choose to vote in person can take steps to mitigate risk, such as voting during “off-peak times,” like mid-morning, when lines are shorter and crowds at polling places are smaller. Malcolm also recommended washing your hands before and after voting, and said people might consider bringing their own black-ink pen or stylus for touch screens. She urged people to be prepared to vote and answer questions ahead of time to avoid lingering at voting sites.

No cases identified after Trump rally so far

Kris Ehresmann, the infectious disease director at MDH, told reporters the state has so far not identified anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19 who attended the Trump rally in Duluth on Wednesday.

The president announced he had contracted the coronavirus around 1 a.m. Friday. “As you know, our teams are constantly looking for clusters of cases associated with any sort of group setting and our awareness is heightened because of the situation with the president,” Ehresmann said. “We have not yet identified any positive cases at this point.”

Ehresmann said the state has not asked the White House or the CDC to help with contact tracing, which are investigations of disease transmission meant to help health officials find and quarantine others who may have been exposed to COVID-19.

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Ehresmann also said state and local health officials do the primary case investigations of Minnesota residents, meaning any contact tracing on the president’s activities in the state would start with other outside health officials and be later shared with the state. “Not only is the president the president, so he is not going to have time to talk to our case investigators, but he’s not a Minnesota resident,” Ehresmann said.

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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