Daily COVID-19 update: New cases, hospitalizations climb

Published 1:37 pm Monday, October 12, 2020

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Minnesota’s steep climb in COVID-19 cases continues, with the Health Department on Monday reporting nearly 1,200 newly confirmed infections. Hospitalizations are approaching record levels in the pandemic.

The newest numbers come after a weekend where confirmed COVID-19 case counts rose by nearly 3,000 — the greatest two-day increase of the pandemic to date. That included a record single-day increase of 1,537 cases in Saturday’s report as testing also climbed to record levels.

Active, confirmed cases in Minnesota remain at a record high.

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Officials had anticipated seeing a surge in cases expected from Labor Day weekend gatherings, sporting events and college student meetups before the start of fall semester. They also expected the wave would put more people in the hospital. That appears to be happening.

Three deaths reported Monday raised Minnesota’s toll to 2,144. Among those who’ve died, about 71 percent had been living in long-term care or assisted living facilities; nearly all had underlying health problems.

Of the 113,439 cases of the disease confirmed in the pandemic to date, about 89 percent have recovered to the point they no longer need to be isolated.

Minnesota loosens restrictions on long-term care visits

The latest numbers came as Minnesota health officials put out new guidance to ease visiting rules for nursing homes and other long-term care facilities in the state.

The guidance says visitors must be allowed if the long-term care facility has not had a COVID-19 exposure in the last 14 days. Another requirement for opening nursing homes is if there’s low to medium virus transmission in the county.

There are exceptions if there is a reasonable or clinical safety cause not to open, such as staffing issues.

The new rules go into effect Saturday. They are being introduced to align with new federal recommendations. Visitors still must schedule their time with the facilities, be screened for symptoms and wear masks.

Rise in cases among age 60-plus Minnesotans

New cases are up dramatically over the past month in all age groups 30 and older. But the most recent data show a concerning rise in the number of new cases among Minnesotans ages 60 and older. It’s not clear why.

People in their 20s still make up the age bracket with the state’s largest number of confirmed cases — approaching 26,000 since the pandemic began, including nearly 15,000 among people ages 20-24.

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

While 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 and that spread could hamper attempts to reopen campuses completely to in-person teaching.

The number of high school-age children confirmed with the disease has also grown, with more than 10,500 total cases among children ages 15 to 19 since the pandemic began.

Cases surging outside the Twin Cities metro area

Regionally, northern, southern and central 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.

Collectively, rural areas of Minnesota continue to report the most new COVID-19 cases. Northern Minnesota, once by far the region least affected by the disease, has seen its caseload grow dramatically in recent weeks relative to its population.

Central Minnesota cases are skyrocketing. It’s not clear why.

Early on, many Minnesotans thought COVID-19 would be only a Twin Cities metro area problem, but now the biggest problems are happening in non-urban parts of the state.

“The hottest of our hot spots are outside the metro area,” Kris Ehresmann, the state’s infectious disease director, said Friday. That includes Martin and Pipestone counties in southern Minnesota, where positive test rates are hitting 10 percent, about twice the statewide average.

She implored Minnesotans again to wear masks in indoor public gathering spaces, socially distance and stay home if they don’t feel well. “People in greater Minnesota,” she added, “they have it within their control to make things better.”


Local cases

• Faribault County: one new case, 179 total cases

Freeborn County: two new cases, 590 total cases. The Freeborn County Public Health Department stated the new cases included one person in their 40s and one person in their 60s. Of the county’s total cases, 29 are active cases and one person is hospitalized.

• Mower County: two new cases, 1,429 total cases

• Steele County: nine new cases, 657 total cases

• Waseca County: two new cases, 877 total cases