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Latest on COVID-19 in MN: 57 more deaths; test positivity rate trending downward – Minnesota Public Radio News


Nov 29, 2020

Minnesota health officials on Sunday reported 57 more COVID-19 deaths in the state.

That’s along with nearly 9,000 more cases. It’s the state’s largest single-day increase in cases — but that’s from a record single-day total of more than 97,000 test results.

Averaged over the past week, the test positivity rate is continuing on a downward trend. It’s now at 10.2 percent — a significant drop from earlier in the month, though still well above the 5 percent threshold that state officials have said is cause for concern.

The deaths reported Sunday included 29 residents of long-term care facilities, and 28 people who lived in private homes. The overall pandemic death toll in Minnesota now stands at 3,578, with a confirmed COVID-19 case total of more than 312,000.

Hospitalizations remain near record highs.

Percent of COVID-19 tests to come back positive

Here are Minnesota’s current COVID-19 statistics:

  • 3,578 deaths (57 new)

  • 312,969 positive cases (8,953 new); 265,223 off isolation

  • 4.2 million tests, 2.5 million people tested (about 42 percent of the population)

  • 10.2 percent seven-day testing rate (officials find 5 percent concerning)

New COVID-19 cases in Minnesota by sample date

Minnesota Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm last week tamped down hopes that the current data pointed to a consistent improvement in conditions.

“We would not consider that we have any sort of a reliable trend just yet,” Malcolm told reporters.

“While we’ve certainly been pleased to see somewhat lower case counts in recent days, we think that this might be another of those patterns that we’ve seen earlier in the epidemic,” she said. “Possibly we are in a trough now between waves and do not necessarily think that what we’ve seen in recent days represents the downside of a peak.”

Active, confirmed COVID-19 cases in Minnesota

Health authorities remain concerned about another possible hospitalization jump in a few weeks following Thanksgiving holiday gatherings where family members and friends without symptoms may unknowingly spread the virus.

Caseloads spread across age groups

New cases have been climbing over the past month among all age groups.

People in their 20s still make up the age bracket with the state’s largest number of confirmed cases — more than 60,000 since the pandemic began, including nearly 33,000 among people ages 20 to 24.

The number of high school-age children confirmed with the disease has also grown, with more than 24,000 total cases among children ages 15 to 19 since the pandemic began.

New COVID-19 related deaths reported in Minnesota each day

The numbers help explain why experts remain particularly concerned about teens and young adults as spreaders of the virus.

Although less likely to feel the worst effects of the disease and end up hospitalized, experts worry youth and young adults will spread it to grandparents and other vulnerable populations.

It’s especially concerning because people can have the coronavirus and spread COVID-19 when they don’t have symptoms.

Walz said recently the state has data showing infection rates rising around bar and restaurant activity after 9 p.m. among young adults, noting that people who have the virus but don’t have symptoms may be unwittingly spreading it.

Virus surges across rural Minnesota

Regionally, central and northern Minnesota have driven much of the recent increase in new cases while Hennepin and Ramsey counties show some of the slowest case growth in the state.

The fastest growing outbreaks remain largely along the state’s western border with the Dakotas, where the virus is spreading unchecked. But new cases are rising everywhere in Minnesota.

Collectively, rural areas continue to report the most new COVID-19 cases per capita.

Latino cases climb

In Minnesota and across the country, COVID-19 has hit communities of color disproportionately hard in both cases and deaths. That’s been especially true for Minnesotans of Hispanic descent for much of the pandemic.

Distrust of the government, together with deeply rooted health and economic disparities, have hampered efforts to boost testing among communities of color, officials say, especially among unauthorized immigrants who fear their personal information may be used to deport them.

Similar trends hold true for Minnesota’s Indigenous residents. Counts among Indigenous people jumped in October relative to population.

Cases among all races and ethnicities continue to rise, although currently the growth is slowest among Black Minnesotans, who reported the most new COVID-19 cases per capita for much of the spring and summer.

Developments around the state

The University of Minnesota football program announced Saturday evening that 15 more people with the team have tested positive for COVID-19.

That includes eight athletes and seven staff members. It brings the total number of football players and staff who’ve tested positive since Nov. 19 to 40 — 20 athletes and 20 staff members.

The football program paused all team-related activities last week, including canceling this weekend’s game against Wisconsin.

Minnesota is scheduled to host Northwestern next Saturday, Dec. 5. Gophers officials said they’ll give an update on the team’s status on Tuesday.

— MPR News staff

Fargo jail lock-down after inmate tests positive for COVID-19

The county jail in Fargo, N.D. is on lockdown after an inmate tested positive for the coronavirus.

The Cass County Sheriff’s office said Friday the precaution took effect after the inmate in the facility’s general population was found this morning to have COVID-19.

In a statement, the sheriff’s office says inmates and staff will be tested. The inmate who tested positive is in quarantine at the jail.

— MPR News staff

U to research COVID-19 outbreaks and immigrants

A new research center at the University of Minnesota will focus on control of the COVID-19 outbreaks in immigrant communities.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has given the U of M a $5 million grant to set up the National Resource Center for Refugees, Immigrants and Migrants. It will work with local health departments to train providers on culturally appropriate care.

Shailey Prasad, a professor of medicine who is leading the center, said evidence shows that the virus has disproportionately affected communities of color. Many, he said, “are essential workers like farm workers or food processing plant employees and have challenges to maintain social distancing, for example, or maybe challenges in accessing health care.”

The center plans to identify barriers and help with mitigation.

— Riham Feshir | MPR News

Top headlines

COVID spread causing ‘surreal’ staffing problems in nursing homes: Long-term care in Minnesota is in dire need of staffing support. With COVID-19 peaking, large numbers of staff are out sick or quarantining because of exposure. The situation is forcing state officials to take unusual measures to fill gaps.

Research shows older people resilient, but stressed by COVID isolation: The pandemic has isolated many of us from friends, family and coworkers. But for older people who live alone, the loss of connection can cut even deeper. Researchers have been talking with dozens of older adults in Minnesota and North Dakota since the pandemic started, in an ongoing study of the impacts of isolation.

State prepares to roll out first rounds of COVID-19 vaccines: As two COVID-19 vaccines approach approval from the Food and Drug Administration, state officials ready their plan to distribute vaccines. They say getting most people the vaccine will be critical to snuffing out a virus that has killed thousands of Minnesotans.

COVID-19 awareness campaign targets northern Minnesota county: It took months for COVID-19 to gain a foothold in Roseau County, on Minnesota’s northern border. But now the virus is spreading rapidly and this week county officials are starting a comprehensive public campaign to convince residents to take the threat seriously.

Lawmakers look for ways to help businesses, workers: With another round of COVID-19 restrictions taking effect late Friday, Minnesota lawmakers are looking for ways to help small businesses that might be forced to close and the employees who would be put out of work. Discussions are already underway about what the state can do and when it could happen.

COVID-19 in Minnesota

Data in these graphs are based on the Minnesota Department of Health’s cumulative totals released at 11 a.m. daily. You can find more detailed statistics on COVID-19 at the Health Department website.

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