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The daily coronavirus update: Walz quarantining after staff member tests positive for COVID-19

On Wednesday, MDH also announced it had revised guidance on visitation and outings for the state’s long-term care facilities. 

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 March 17, 2021:

499,962 cases; 6,756 deaths

Seven more Minnesotans have died of COVID-19, the Minnesota Department of Health said Wednesday, for a total of 6,756.

Of the people whose deaths were announced Wednesday, one was in their 80s, three were in their 70s, one was in their 60s, one was in their 50s and one was in their 40s. Two of the seven people whose deaths announced Wednesday were residents of long-term care facilities.

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MDH also said Wednesday there have been 499,962 total cases of COVID-19 in Minnesota. That number is up 1,036 from the total announced on Tuesday and is based on 21,047 new tests. The seven-day case positivity rate, which lags by a week, has ticked up and is at 4 percent for the first time since the end of January. You can find the seven-day positive case average here. The number of new cases per capita is also beginning to tick up.

As of Monday, the most recent day of data available, 1,284,612 people in Minnesota, or 23.1 percent of the population, had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. That’s up 19,182 from the day prior.

The most recent data available show 67 Minnesotans are hospitalized in intensive care with COVID-19, and 215 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 staffer tests positive for COVID-19

Gov. Tim Walz abruptly postponed an event at a new state vaccination site in St. Cloud shortly before he was scheduled to make an appearance Wednesday morning.

On Wednesday afternoon, his office announced a staffer had tested positive for the virus. Walz, Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan and Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm are all quarantining as a precaution after attending a press conference with the staffer, despite not having been within 6 feet of the staffer for 15 minutes or more.

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Walz is one of at least 22 state governors, at least as of Monday, who have not been vaccinated for COVID-19. He has insisted he will wait until he becomes eligible under Minnesota’s guidelines. Flanagan has received one of two doses of the Moderna vaccine and Malcolm received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine last week.

Asked whether she has encouraged Walz to get the vaccine, Malcolm had this to say: “I really have respected the governor’s decision on that. He is a very healthy man and he knows that we’re very close to that eligibility category.”

Minnesota revises long-term care visitation and outing guidance

On Wednesday, MDH announced it had revised guidance on visitation and outings at long-term care facilities to fall in line with recent updates to federal guidance.

The guidance allows more visitation in long-term care facilities, and allows residents to leave their residences without quarantining when they come home in some cases. Malcolm said outdoor visits are still preferred given the lower risk of COVID-19 transmission.

More information can be found here.

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MDH’s coronavirus website:

MDH’s phone line for COVID-19 questions: 651-297-1304

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