Daily COVID-19 update: Hospitalizations continue downward trend

Published 6:17 pm Saturday, June 20, 2020

State health officials reported 12 more confirmed COVID-19 deaths in Minnesota on Saturday, as the number of people hospitalized and in ICUs continued to fall.

The death toll in Minnesota since the pandemic began is now at least 1,372. Nine of the 12 deaths reported Saturday were people who lived in long-term care facilities.

The Minnesota Department of Health reported 438 new confirmed cases in the state in Saturday’s data release, from nearly 17,000 completed tests — one of the highest testing totals reported to date.

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The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Minnesota has dropped to 324, with 161 of those patients in ICUs — the lowest that’s been since early May. Those are two of the most closely watched measures of how the state is managing COVID-19’s spread, and their decline marks a positive trend.

About 87 percent of people diagnosed with COVID-19 in Minnesota have recovered to the point where they no longer need to be isolated.

Here are the latest coronavirus statistics

  • 32,467 cases confirmed (438 new) via 492,043 tests
  • 1,372 deaths (12 new)
  • 3,767 cases requiring hospitalization
  • 324 people remain hospitalized; 161 in intensive care (down from 339/168 on Friday)
  • 28,205 patients no longer needing isolation

Earlier this week, Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said intensive care capacity is “in about as good a situation as it could be at this point.”

ICU beds in the Twin Cities are still near high levels of use given the needs of COVID-19 patients along with cases not related to the disease. While there’s not a lot of slack in the system, the state is prepared, Malcolm said.

The latest counts came as state health officials announced that youth sports could resume in the coming weeks. Outdoor sports can return to games and scrimmages starting June 24, and indoor sports July 1 or later, under the Health Department’s recommended guidance.

Among the recommendations, the department calls on players to:

  • Avoid sharing individual water bottles, community snacks or towels
  • Try and use “dedicated personal equipment” such as bats, mitts and rackets
  • Find new ways to show sportsmanship, including “tip your hats instead of handshakes.”

While following the guidance can help reduce risk, “in the end everyone has to make their own decisions about what level of risk they are willing to accept,” Malcolm said.

“Some families, especially those with members who face an elevated risk of severe illness, may choose not to participate. That is perfectly OK, and everyone needs to respect that decision when a family or a player makes it.”

Officials also said the Minnesota Department of Education is working with the Minnesota State High School League to develop activities and sports guidance for schools for the fall sports season.

Officials continue to implore Minnesotans to keep social distancing and wearing masks in public spaces. People who feel flu-like symptoms should get tested and people who feel ill should stay home.

Outdoor, window visits allowed at long-term care facilities

Among those who’ve died in the pandemic, some 80 percent were residents of long-term care or assisted living facilities, nearly all had underlying health problems.

Health officials on Thursday issued guidance for outdoor visits at long-term care facilities, in addition to earlier guidelines on window visits.

Malcolm said while the coronavirus poses a health risk to residents, isolation is also a concern.

Visitors still must be screened for symptoms, and everyone has to wear masks and keep a minimum distance of 6 feet. Facilities are in charge of developing visitation hours and schedules, and they must have staff nearby and keep visitors from walking through facilities.

The state recommends those who want to visit residents, either through a window or outdoors, set up visits ahead of time through the facility.

Meatpacking hot spots remain

Many of the outbreaks outside the Twin Cities metro area are focused around meatpacking plants. Officials have intensified testing in those hot spots, uncovering more infections.

That includes Mower County in southeastern Minnesota, where there were 755 confirmed cases as of Friday.

Mower County is home to Hormel Foods and Quality Pork Processors, both of which say they’re partnering with Mayo Clinic to ramp up employee testing.

While some of Mower County’s positive cases are associated with people who work in the facilities and with the people they live with, county officials say they are also seeing transmission among people who live in the county but work in other counties where coronavirus is present.

Health officials plan a COVID-19 testing push in Austin this weekend, Kris Ehresmann, the state’s infectious disease director, said Wednesday.

Nobles, in southwestern Minnesota, reported 1,628 confirmed cases Thursday. Roughly 1 in 14 people now have tested positive for COVID-19 in the county, although there have only been a few additional cases recorded the past few days.

Worthington’s massive JBS pork processing plant was the epicenter of the Nobles outbreak. The JBS plant shut on April 20 but has since reopened with expanded hygiene and health monitoring measures.

Similar problems have been reported in Stearns County, where COVID-19 cases tied to two packing plants — Pilgrim’s Pride poultry plant in Cold Spring and Jennie-O Turkey in Melrose — skyrocketed in May.

An undisclosed number of workers at both plants have tested positive for the virus. There were about 55 confirmed cases in Stearns County in early May. By Friday, confirmed cases were at 2,126 with 19 deaths.

Kandiyohi County in west-central Minnesota is also seeing cases continue to climb more than a month after officials with the Jennie-O turkey processing plant there said some employees had tested positive for the coronavirus. The county had confirmed three COVID-19 cases then.

As of Friday, the Health Department reported 554 people have now tested positive in the county.

Cases have also climbed noticeably in Cottonwood County, home to a pork processing plant in Windom, and in Lyon County, around a turkey processor in Marshall.


Local update

Freeborn County reported two new COVID-19 cases Saturday, increasing its total cumulative cases to 245. The new cases included one person in their 30s and one person in their 50s.

Of the total cases in the county, 200 are now out of isolation, and one person remains hospitalized.

Mower County reported 29 new cases and has now had 784 cases.

Faribault County reported one new case, and Steele had three new cases, increasing their total counts to 31 and 186 cases, respectively. Waseca County had one new case and has had 37 cases.


Confirmed COVID-19 update

County Cases Deaths
Aitkin 13 0
Anoka 1,867 99
Becker 50 0
Beltrami 24 0
Benton 201 3
Big Stone 14 0
Blue Earth 191 2
Brown 22 2
Carlton 81 0
Carver 293 1
Cass 12 2
Chippewa 66 1
Chisago 83 1
Clay 522 37
Clearwater 6 0
Cook 1 0
Cottonwood 121 0
Crow Wing 93 11
Dakota 1,878 81
Dodge 63 0
Douglas 54 0
Faribault 31 0
Fillmore 21 0
Freeborn 245 0
Goodhue 102 7
Grant 6 0
Hennepin 10,705 744
Houston 10 0
Hubbard 5 0
Isanti 53 0
Itasca 59 12
Jackson 50 0
Kanabec 13 1
Kandiyohi 560 1
Kittson 1 0
Koochiching 9 0
Lac qui Parle 4 0
Lake 4 0
Lake of the Woods 0 0
Le Sueur 57 1
Lincoln 6 0
Lyon 270 2
McLeod 66 0
Mahnomen 6 1
Marshall 12 0
Martin 147 5
Meeker 51 1
Mille Lacs 29 1
Morrison 54 1
Mower 784 2
Murray 47 0
Nicollet 107 12
Nobles 1,630 6
Norman 18 0
Olmsted 869 14
Otter Tail 85 1
Pennington 50 0
Pine 96 0
Pipestone 14 0
Polk 71 2
Pope 10 0
Ramsey 4,244 209
Red Lake 3 0
Redwood 12 0
Renville 12 1
Rice 743 4
Rock 26 0
Roseau 6 0
St. Louis 135 14
Scott 561 4
Sherburne 273 4
Sibley 28 2
Stearns 2,131 19
Steele 186 0
Stevens 2 0
Swift 20 1
Todd 388 2
Traverse 5 0
Wabasha 27 0
Wadena 10 0
Waseca 37 0
Washington 868 38
Watonwan 137 0
Wilkin 20 3
Winona 94 15
Wright 397 2
Yellow Medicine 22 0
Unknown/missing 68 0