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The daily coronavirus update: Minnesota nears single-month record for deaths

Minnesota has now reported more than 60 deaths for three straight days, and there have been 693 deaths through the first 20 days of November.

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 20, 2020:

256,700 cases; 3,150 deaths

Sixty-eight more Minnesotans have died of COVID-19, the Minnesota Department of Health said Friday, for a total of 3,150.

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Of the people whose deaths were announced Friday, 20 were in their 90s, 31 were in their 80s, 12 were in their 70s, one was in their 60s, two were in their 50s and two were in their 40s. Forty-four of the 68 people whose deaths announced Friday were residents of long-term care facilities.

Minnesota has now reported more than 60 deaths per day for three straight days, and there have been 693 deaths through 20 days in November. The state has nearly matched its record-high monthly death toll of 696 in May, but with 10 days to go in November.

MDH also said Friday there have been 256,700 total cases of COVID-19 in Minnesota. That number is up 6,794 from the total announced on Thursday and is based on 58,622 new tests. MDH Commissioner Jan Malcolm said the seven-day positive case average, which lags by a week, is 15.4 percent. Officials say a rate above 5 percent is a concerning sign of disease spread.

The most recent data available show 367 Minnesotans are hospitalized in intensive care with COVID-19, and 1,384 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 talks underway on business relief

Gov. Tim Walz said he’s considering tapping budget reserves as one way to provide money to businesses shut down by his latest executive order. The governor said more generally that he has tasked top administration officials with finding ways to push out cash, even as the state faces a multi-billion dollar budget deficit because of the pandemic.

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Walz has been urging Congress to approve a stimulus package, but said he’s also working with legislators to “find common ground” on business help. “It won’t be enough, but we need to do something in the very short run here to provide a bit of a lifeline to get these folks through,” Walz said.

Associations representing bars, restaurants and other hospitality businesses sent a letter to Walz on Thursday asking for an emergency grant fund, a no-interest loan program, sales tax forgiveness, property tax cuts, a freeze on evictions for the sector and more. 

Walz said any appropriation of state money would need legislative approval and he was still determining if he had executive power to unilaterally approve any of those measures. But he said generally he’s focused on getting cash to the businesses and working with the Legislature.

State urges Minnesotans to seek mental health help

Walz also said Friday that IKEA’s U.S. Community Foundation will donate $1.2 million to boost mental health services for Minnesota students. The money is equivalent to the amount the state government paid IKEA retail workers in unemployment insurance earlier this year when the company furloughed the workers during the pandemic, according to a news release.

State officials and mental health leaders urged Minnesotans to take care of their own mental health during a difficult time. Julie Hanenburg, executive director of Lighthouse Child and Family Services in Milaca, said people might need help navigating isolation, loss of employment or sickness during the pandemic. But she said an emphasis on “telehealth” remote help means “it’s never been easier to access mental health services.”

The state has a 24-hour a day helpline for people experiencing a psychiatric crisis and it can be accessed by texting MN to 741-741.

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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