Officials monitor outbreaks as death toll rises to 134

Published 7:04 am Monday, April 20, 2020

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As the numbers of confirmed cases and deaths from COVID-19 climbed over the weekend, officials in Minnesota and neighboring states continued to monitor several outbreaks of particular concern.

Minnesota health officials announced Sunday that 13 more people in the state have died from COVID-19, bringing the statewide death toll to 134.

Meanwhile, 143 new confirmed cases were reported Sunday — the third consecutive day with at least 140 new cases in Minnesota. The overall confirmed case total now stands at 2,356, though officials say continued limitations on testing mean the actual number is much higher.

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Cases have now been confirmed in 76 of 87 counties in Minnesota, with Marshall and Morrison counties reporting their first cases on Sunday.

There was a continued spike in cases in southwestern Minnesota’s Nobles County, from 36 on Saturday to 60 on Sunday. A pork processing plant in Worthington is at the center of an outbreak in that area.

About half of people diagnosed with COVID-19 in Minnesota have recovered to the point of no longer needing to be in isolation.

The latest coronavirus statistics as of Sunday:

  • 2,356 cases via 45,716 tests, up from 2,213 / 44,368 on Saturday
  • 134 total deaths, up from 121 on Saturday
  • 574 total cases have required hospitalization, up from 561 the previous day
  • 228 people remain in the hospital, down from 239 on Saturday; 116 in ICUs, up from 111 the previous day
  • 1,160 patients recovered to the point of no longer needing to be in isolation, up from 1,118 on Saturday

Of the 13 new deaths reported Sunday, eight of the patients were in the Twin Cities metro area. Two were in Winona County and the others were residents of Mille Lacs, Olmsted and St. Louis counties. State officials said all were in their 60s or older, and 10 of the 13 people who died were living in long-term care facilities.

Meanwhile, authorities in Minnesota and surrounding states were tracking outbreaks of COVID-19 this weekend, including at the JBS pork processing plant in Worthington and an assisted-living facility near the Twin Cities that had to relocate its residents.

The Minnesota Department of Health reported Sunday that at least 26 employees at the JBS plant had tested positive for COVID-19.

And state health officials said more than 40 residents of Meridian Manor in Wayzata were moved to other facilities on Saturday amid an outbreak there. The nonprofit that manages Meridian Manor said 18 residents had tested positive for COVID-19 as of Saturday; MDH said some staff members also were affected.

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 continued to increase in the Sioux Falls, S.D., area, with more than 1,300 total cases reported in Minnehaha County as of Sunday. The now-closed Smithfield pork processing plant in Sioux Falls has been a national hot spot for coronavirus, with more than 600 employees testing positive.

And the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in North Dakota increased dramatically over the weekend, in large part due to an outbreak tied to a wind turbine manufacturing plant in Grand Forks.

More than 100 confirmed cases have been linked to the LM Wind Power plant in Grand Forks. LM Wind Power, which is owned by General Electric, has closed the facility for a minimum of 14 days. And the state of North Dakota has quarantined all 900 employees who work there. At least eight of the employees who have tested positive are from Minnesota.

“We were hoping to avoid something like this. But we’ve planned for it and prepared for it,” Grand Forks Mayor Michael Brown said at a Saturday news conference. “We have identified and are isolating the problem and are doing everything we can to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 so we don’t overwhelm our health care system.”