Stability, but still too high, state health officials say

Published 7:29 am Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

State officials are happy to see Minnesota in a stretch of the coronavirus pandemic where new case counts are flattening and current hospitalizations are inching down, but they say that doesn’t mean people should lower their guard.

Minnesota’s count of active, confirmed cases remains near its late-May high and public health leaders believe that while the state may be at the crest of the current wave, more waves are coming.

“We’re at a place where things are stable, but the concern is we’re stable at a high rate of cases,” Kris Ehresmann, the state’s infectious disease director, told reporters Monday.

Email newsletter signup

Here are the latest coronavirus statistics in Minnesota:

  • 65,716 cases confirmed (567 new) via 1,266,561 tests (12,353 new)
  • 1,712 deaths (six new)
  • 5,886 cases requiring hospitalization
  • 286 people remain hospitalized; 155 in intensive care
  • 58,859 patients no longer needing isolation

Ehresmann urged people generally to eat more nutritious meals, get around eight hours of sleep each night and try to be physically active to improve their health and make them less susceptible to COVID-19’s effects.

College concerns grow as fall semester nears

Worries continue about the growth of COVID-19 among younger Minnesotans, including that those infected will inadvertently spread the virus to grandparents and other more vulnerable people.

People in their 20s remain the age group with the highest number of COVID-19 confirmed cases in the pandemic — more than 15,000.

State public health leaders are increasingly worried about college students joining end-of-summer parties and other gatherings that could feed the spread of COVID-19 and bring it onto campuses this fall.

Clusters of cases surfaced in late June around college bars, including in Mankato, Minneapolis and St. Cloud. Concerns over similar potential outbreaks are percolating again as the fall semester nears.

“This is a bad time to throw a party, go on a group road trip or otherwise lighten up on COVID-19 precautions,” Ehresmann told reporters Friday as she called on students to “lay low before you go.”

“The pandemic is still a big problem and will likely become a bigger problem this fall,” she said. “The world has changed and wont be going back to normal at least for the next few months.”

On Monday, she said the Health Department will be posting additional guidance to colleges on ways to reduce COVID-19 risk.

Cases grow in the south

Regionally, the Twin Cities and its suburbs have been driving the counts of newly reported cases, although there’s an upswing now in southern Minnesota.

Northern Minnesota cases have been on the rise for weeks, although they tapered off in the most recent report. Beltrami County, home to Bemidji, has seen a steady climb the past few weeks. The county reported 275 cases and one death as of Monday.

Meatpacking operations had been hot spots for big outbreaks in southwest, west-central and central Minnesota earlier in the pandemic.

New cases have slowed considerably in recent weeks, although the problem has resurfaced recently in McLeod County (271 cases), where more than 20 employees at a Seneca Foods plant in Glencoe have been identified in an outbreak.