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The daily coronavirus update: 77 more deaths, second highest one-day toll in Minnesota

The Minnesota Department of Health also said Wednesday there have been 5,165 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Minnesota, based on 42,737 tests.

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 December 2, 2020:

327,477 cases; 3,692 deaths

Seventy-seven more Minnesotans have died of COVID-19, the Minnesota Department of Health said Wednesday, for a total of 3,692. That is the second highest reported one-day death toll of the pandemic. The highest one-day death toll in Minnesota, 101, was reported on Nov. 27. 

“We are right in the teeth of it,” Gov. Tim Walz said Wednesday. 

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Of the people whose deaths were announced Wednesday, one was over 100 years old, 18 were in their 90s, 27 in their 80s, 19 in their 70s, five in their 60s, four in their 50s, one in their 40s, and two in their 30s. Forty-four of the 77 people whose deaths were announced Wednesday were residents of long-term care facilities.

MDH also said Wednesday there have been 327,477 total confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Minnesota, up 5,165 from Tuesday’s count and based on 42,737 new tests. The seven-day positivity average, which lags by a week, is 10.9 percent, down from 14.1 last week and over 15 percent two week ago. You can find the seven-day positive case average here.

The most recent data show 354 Minnesotans are hospitalized in intensive care, and 1,350 are in the hospital and not in intensive care. You can find more information about Minnesota’s current ICU usage and capacity here.

First responders hit hard by pandemic, Walz open to prioritizing them in vaccine rollout

During a press conference Wednesday, Walz focused attention on how the pandemic has affected first responders, bringing in leadership from multiple fire and police forces from around the state to talk about their experiences. 

Emergency responders routinely interact with potentially contagious people as part of their job, then often return to close-quartered working environments like locker rooms or fire houses. When someone does catch the virus, or needs to otherwise quarantine, it adds more pressure on the remaining staff members. 

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“But just like we preach about fire safety, one little spark can cause a fire,” said Jay Wood, a firefighter from Plato, a small town a hour’s drive west of Minneapolis. “That’s exactly what happened to us … over three-quarters of our fire department had been affected in one way or another from the virus, either they tested positive or they had been exposed.” 

Because of the strain the pandemic is putting on first responders, Walz said he would be open to considering a way to also prioritize police and firefighters when the vaccine is made available. Early federal plans for distributing the vaccine first offers the vaccine to healthcare workers, which would include paramedics, and MDH director Jan Malcolm also noted that the term “healthcare workers” is “very broad.”

On Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices determined state guidelines for the phased rollout of the vaccine after approval by the Food and Drug Administration. State officials have yet to thoroughly review the guidance, but Malcolm said her understanding is that the state is mandated to follow the federal plan. 

But the current framework does not include all first responders in the group that will receive the opening round of vaccines. Walz said he is still digesting and understanding the federal guidance, which he said he received Wednesday morning. 

In the meantime, Walz stressed the importance of sticking to preventive measures, and remaining committed to them amid exciting reports of an imminent vaccine rollout. “If you’re thinking about wearing that mask, or if you’re thinking about whether to go to that little gathering, stop and think about that firefighter, and that police officer, that paramedic, and give them a little bit of a break today,” said Walz. 

Testing site in Worthington to open Thursday

The Minnesota Department of Health will open a saliva testing site in Worthington on Thursday. Tests will be made available to anyone who believes they need a COVID-19 test, with or without insurance. 

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It’s the 22nd testing site in the state. “Testing is a key component of our strategy to protect Minnesotans from COVID-19,” said Minnesota Commissioner of Health Jan Malcolm.

The testing site will be at the Worthington Event Center, and will be open Mondays, Thursdays, and Fridays from noon to 7 pm, and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekends. The state highly recommends making appointments, which can be made through the Vault Health registration site.

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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

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