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Daily COVID-19 update: Hospitalizations across Minnesota continue to rise; Freeborn County reports 25 new cases

By Albert Lea Tribune and Associated Press

Hospitalizations across the state reached new heights on Tuesday as COVID-19 cases and deaths continue to rise.

According to the Minnesota Department of Health, 1,669 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Monday, including 346 in intensive care. The numbers included 343 new admissions.

New cases grew by 5,945, increasing the state’s cumulative total to 236,949. Of that number, more than 50,000 are still considered active cases.

Twenty-six new deaths were reported, including one person from Mower County in their early 90s. Deaths came from 17 counties and ranged in age from early 50s to early 90s. Twelve resided in long-term care or assisted living facilities, and three lived in group homes or residential behavioral health facilities.

The state has now had 2,943 deaths, of which 2,015 were residents of long-term care or assisted living facilities.

The numbers come as officials on Monday urged people to stay home when possible and skip Thanksgiving gatherings as the pandemic pushes hospitals to their limits.

As COVID-19 cases continue to rise across the state, Gov. Tim Walz warned that positive cases in the pipeline would end up putting Minnesota hospitals under even more strain in coming weeks. He said more restrictions will likely be announced this week, including possible changes to youth winter sports, and he urged Minnesotans to stop politicizing the pandemic and listen to health officials.

“We need to fight the virus and not each other,” the Democratic governor said, adding: “Wear your masks and stay healthy — if for no other reason. that’ll keep you healthy to vote against me in two years.”

Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm, who described the numbers as “really very terrifying,” said activities that were deemed relatively safe a month or two weeks ago are now significantly more risky due to the dramatic increases in cases and hospitalizations. That includes small Thanksgiving gatherings — which she said should be reconsidered.

“The ground is really shifting under our feet and we need to adapt quickly,” Malcolm said. “The plans we thought might be OK earlier this month, even now might present an unacceptable risk to friends and family.”

Area updates

Freeborn County on Tuesday reported 25 new cases, increasing its cumulative total to 1,168. 

The county has had 242 new cases since last Wednesday and now has 234 active cases, according to the Freeborn County Public Health Department. Nine people are hospitalized, and 61 have been hospitalized at some point during the pandemic.

The county health department stated the new cases included the following:

  • One person under age 4
  • Two people between 10 and 14
  • Two people between 15 and 19
  • Three people in their 20s
  • Four people in their 30s
  • One person in their 40s
  • Five people in their 50s
  • Two people in their 60s
  • Two people in their 70s
  • Three people in their 80s

A new Albert Lea COVID-19 testing site is expected to open today at the Albert Lea National Guard Armory, 410 Prospect Ave. The site is open to any Minnesotan who wants to be tested, whether they have symptoms or not and does not require insurance. It will stay in operation until at least the end of the year to provide sustained testing capacity across the state.

According to a press release, pre-registration is requested to avoid long lines or waits. The pre-registration link is https://www.primarybio.com/r/albertlea.

“Right now, Minnesota is seeing record numbers of new cases,” said Phillip Johnson, executive director of the Albert Lea Economic Development Agency, in the release. “We want businesses across Minnesota to survive and thrive even in these difficult circumstances. Slowing this virus means keeping more businesses going, which is especially important during the upcoming holiday season. We appreciate the state directing resources to help the people of Albert Lea and surrounding communities by giving them an additional opportunity for fast and convenient testing.”

The site will be staffed by a combination of local public health staff and members of the Minnesota National Guard.

The following are updates from other area counties:

• Faribault County: Two new cases, 404 total cases

• Mower County: 27 new cases, 2,065 total cases

• Steele County: 29 new cases, 1,423 total cases

• Waseca County: 11 new cases, 1,157 total cases