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The daily coronavirus update: death toll jumps again; Walz to announce ‘pause’ in high school sports

November is on pace to be the deadliest month of the pandemic so far in Minnesota. 

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 November 17, 2020:

236,949 cases; 2,943 deaths

Twenty-six more Minnesotans have died of COVID-19, the Minnesota Department of Health said Tuesday, for a total of 2,943. After reaching 56 deaths last Wednesday, a record-high, the state’s reported death toll decreased each day over the weekend and fell to 12 Monday before spiking again Tuesday.  

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Of the people whose deaths were announced Tuesday, four were in their 90s, eight in their 80s, and seven in their 70s, five in their 60s, and two in their 50s. Twelve of the 26 deaths announced Tuesday were residents of long-term care facilities. With 486 deaths so far, November is on pace to be the deadliest month of the pandemic. In May, 696 people died from coronavirus.

MDH also said Tuesday there have been 236,949 total cases of COVID-19 in Minnesota. The number of positives is up 5,931 from Monday’s count and is based on 33,542 new tests. The seven-day positive case average, which lags by a week, is now 14.9 percent. That percentage has climbed steadily since October, and nears 15 percent for the first time since April. Health officials say a seven-day rate above 5 percent is a concerning sign of escalating disease spread.

The most recent data available show 346 Minnesotans are hospitalized in intensive care with COVID-19, and 1,323 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.

More information on cases can be found here.

Walz says state will ‘pause’ school sports activities 

On the heels of his announcement last week of stricter restrictions on certain businesses, Gov. Tim Walz said Tuesday that he will announce Wednesday a “pause” of school activities that will be “fairly broad” across sports. He said that school activities are a source of community spread, and because of the “unsustainable” trajectory of cases, he said he could not continue to put people at risk.

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Among those on the call Tuesday with Walz was former GOP state Rep. Nick Zerwas, from Elk River. Zerwas — who was formerly a vocal critic of state shutdown measures — said he’d contracted the virus, likely from his son, and that the virus should be taken seriously. Zerwas said that he was mistaken in his previous stance over the summer that the number of positive cases did not justify the level of restrictions. “If we don’t act now,” he said. “God help us.”

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MDH’s coronavirus website:

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