MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Hours before Gov. Tim Walz’s stay-at-home order was slated to go into effect, health officials announced Friday that the number of positive coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in Minnesota had climbed to 398, and two more people had died, bringing the death toll in the state to four.
The Minnesota Department of Health says of the nearly 400 positive cases in the state, 51 people have been hospitalized, with 34 remaining in the hospital.
No details have been released on the two deaths reported Friday. The two earlier deaths both involved Ramsey County residents in their 80s.
According to a map released by health officials, the majority of documented COVID-19 cases are in the Twin Cities metro area. Hennepin County, the state’s most populous, has seen more than 100 positive cases, surpassing the number of confirmed cases in nearby counties by at least a factor of three.
In greater Minnesota, the virus appears to be spreading in the southeast, south-central and north-central parts of the state, as counties in those areas have at least one resident who has tested positive for the virus.
According to health officials, more than 14,000 COVID-19 tests have been completed in labs across Minnesota. Of the nearly 400 individuals who’ve tested positive, 180 of them have recovered and are no longer in isolation.
For most people, COVID-19 symptoms are mild, such as a cough and fever. However, the disease can be deadly to the elderly and those with sensitive lungs. (Anyone with questions about COVID-19 can call the Minnesota Department of Health hotline at 651-201-3920.)
At midnight Friday, the governor’s stay-at-home order will go into effect. Earlier this week, he directed Minnesotans to stay home as much as possible for the next two weeks, unless their job is considered essential. Those in violation could face a $1,000 fine or jail time.
However, the order does not mean Minnesotans can’t leave their homes. Residents will still be able to walk or exercise outdoors, buy groceries and alcohol, and get takeout or delivery from their favorite restaurants. The order is slated to last until April 10.
At the state capitol on Thursday, lawmakers passed a $330 million financial aid package to lessen the economic impact of the pandemic and to bolster the response of the state’s healthcare system. Meanwhile in Washington, the House is poised to take up a $2 trillion relief bill Friday that would expand unemployment insurance and send direct payments to most Americans. The bill is expected to pass.