State health officials have again raised concerns that COVID-19 trends in Minnesota are headed the wrong way on Monday, just days before Governor Tim Walz announced his plan for the upcoming school year.
With more than 2,000 new cases confirmed in recent days, authorities have pleaded with Minnesotans to remain vigilant, wear masks, and maintain social distance so that the state does not suffer from the problems now seen in Florida, Texas, and other states. who fight to control outbreaks.
“We are not asking Minnesotans to mask themselves for the Department of Health,” Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm told reporters. “We are asking them to mask themselves for their own health.”
Compliance with the Minnesota statewide mask order is critical, he added: “We feel like we are in a kind of vulnerable state. But we believe that if Minnesotans can understand the importance of complying with existing guidance and current executive orders, we could affect these rates in a few weeks. ”
His comments came hours after the latest Department of Health statistics on COVID-19 offered a mixture of hope and concern, and daily death counts were kept in single digits even as cases jump.
Current hospitalizations decreased from the previous day, but the number of those hospitalized and requiring intensive care increased to its highest point in three weeks. Officials in recent weeks have been preparing Minnesota residents to expect more hospitalizations and ICU cases as new confirmed cases of the disease increased.
Malcolm said officials were increasingly concerned about the increased community spread of the disease.
Added Kris Ehresmann, the state’s director of infectious diseases: “There may be a time when we need to re-check if the things we are seeing continue unfavorably.”
While the Minnesota mask mandate went into effect on Saturday, Ehresmann said it would be several weeks before officials could assess its impact.
Here are the latest coronaviruses. Statistics:
51,803 confirmed cases (650 new ones) through 970,726 tests
1,576 deaths (two new)
4,961 cases requiring hospitalization
257 people remain hospitalized; 126 in intensive care
45,198 patients no longer require isolation
Walz Schools Announcement Thursday
The governor is expected to announce a plan Thursday to bring the children back to school buildings. The state Department of Education has told school leaders to prepare for anything, including a combination of on-campus and online instruction.
“No one wants kids in school more than me,” and state officials have been working for months to do that safely, Walz, a former high school teacher, recently said.
“We are doing everything we can to get those kids back to those classrooms … to keep them there, but also have some agility” to go back to an online or hybrid model if the cases start to go up, he said, adding: ” This is going to be a challenge. “
The DFL governor has suggested in recent days that there will be no uniform order determining whether school buildings are to be reopened. On KFGO radio on Friday, Walz reinforced that local decisions are important and that it will be up to school leaders to implement the safety guidelines.
“It won’t necessarily look the same everywhere,” he said earlier this week, “but the results should be the same: Children and staff are safe in that learning environment.”
However, on Monday, Malcolm told reporters that the case jumps in recent weeks have made the schools’ analysis even more challenging.
Cases that grow between age groups, in the north
State health officials remain concerned about the recent increase in coronavirus cases in Minnesota youth, including the fact that those infected will spread the virus without realizing it to grandparents and other more vulnerable populations.
Minnesota residents in their 20s are the age group with the most confirmed cases in the pandemic, with more than 12,000. The median age of infected Minnesotans has declined in recent weeks and is now 36 years old.
Health researchers are starting to see more cases in their 30s and 40s as more people gather for family reunions and summer fun without social distancing, Ehresmann said earlier in the week.
It is not the same as the situation in recent weeks where 20-year-olds gathered in bars drove the increases. Now analysts are seeing an evolution in the “biggest gradual increase in social activities,” he added.
On Friday, Ehresmann reiterated the point, urging people to take responsibility for wearing masks, social distancing, and working to help stop the spread.
“Consider all the roles you play” in all daily interactions, she warned, noting that people who might not care about themselves should worry about infecting vulnerable family members and coworkers.
At the regional level, recently reported cases have recently been driven by the Twin Cities and their suburbs.
New cases have also increased in northern Minnesota.
Cases in Beltrami County, Bemidji’s home, have more than doubled in the past week and a half, from 53 to 122 on Friday. That jumped back to 157 as of Monday.
Ehresmann last week said the increase in the Beltrami case is linked to the spread of sporting events and other public gatherings.
Meat packing hot spots remain
Many of the outbreaks outside the Twin Cities metropolitan area focus on meat packing plants. Officials have stepped up testing at those hot spots, uncovering more infections.
That includes Mower County in southeast Minnesota, where there were 1,052 confirmed cases as of Monday. Mower County is the home of Hormel Foods and Quality Pork Processors. Both have partnered with Mayo Clinic to increase employee testing.
While some of the positive cases in Mower County are associated with people who work on the premises and with the people they live with, county officials say they are also seeing transmission among people who live in the county but who work. in other counties where coronavirus is present.
The nobles, in southwestern Minnesota, reported 1,728 confirmed cases as of Monday, with six deaths. About 1 in 13 people have now tested positive for COVID-19 in the county since the pandemic began, although the new case count has dropped dramatically in recent weeks.
Worthington’s massive JBS pork processing plant was the epicenter of the Nobles outbreak. The JBS plant closed on April 20, but has since been reopened with expanded hygiene and health monitoring measures.
Similar problems have been reported in Stearns County, where cases of COVID-19 linked to two packing plants, the Pilgrim’s Pride poultry plant in Cold Spring and Jennie-O Turkey in Melrose, soared in May. An undisclosed number of workers at both plants have tested positive for the virus.
There were around 55 confirmed cases in Stearns County in early May. As of Monday, confirmed cases were 2,734 with 19 deaths.
Kandiyohi County in west-central Minnesota is also dealing with a significant workload more than two months after officials at the Jennie-O turkey processing plant there said some employees had tested positive for the coronavirus. .
As of Monday, the Health Department reported that 647 people have now tested positive. The county had confirmed three cases of COVID-19 in late April.
Cases have also increased dramatically in Lyon County (409 cases) around a turkey processor in Marshall.
Free COVID-19 trials available this week at Iron Range
An increase in coronavirus cases in the Minnesota Iron Range has triggered a free test drive event this week.
State and county officials are teaming up for testing at the St. Louis County Fairgrounds in Chisholm, Minnesota.
It runs from noon to 7 pm on Tuesday and from 10 am to 5 pm on Wednesday. No insurance or identification is required. Individuals are encouraged to pre-register through the St. Louis County website, while walk-ins are allowed.
– MPR News staff
More boaters pose more threats to rogues: As the COVID-19 pandemic drives more people to enjoy outdoor recreation this summer, there are more people in Minnesota’s lakes, and a greater chance of conflict between boaters and wildlife. That can spell trouble for the iconic Minnesota state bird.
Goal to close Thanksgiving Day, ending the start of Black Friday: The move comes as stores are rethinking in-store Black Friday bargain purchases while trying to curb the spread of the coronavirus, which has seen a resurgence in a large number of states. Walmart, the nation’s largest retailer, announced the move on Tuesday, and at the time, analysts expected more to come.
COVID-19 in Minnesota
The data in these charts is based on the running totals of the Minnesota Department of Health published at 11 am daily. You can find more detailed statistics on COVID-19 at Department of Health website.
Coronavirus is transmitted through respiratory droplets, coughs, and sneezes, similar to how the flu can spread.