MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — State health officials reported Thursday that one more person in Minnesota has died of COVID-19, bringing the state’s death toll up to 18. Meanwhile, 53 more people have tested positive for the disease since Wednesday.
The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) says that so far 742 cases of the novel coronavirus have been confirmed in the state since the outbreak began. However, experts say that this number is likely “just the tip of the iceberg,” as testing has been limited amid the pandemic. Even so, more than 22,000 people in Minnesota have been tested for COVID-19.
Most of the cases are in the Twin Cities metro, although the virus has been reported in more than half of the state’s 87 counties.
Of the people currently battling the disease, 75 are hospitalized, with 38 in intensive care beds. The number of people in intensive care has increased by nine since Wednesday.
Meanwhile, 373 people have recovered from the disease and no longer need to be in isolation.
Health officials have released little information on the people who’ve died, listing only their ages, which range from 58 to 95 years old. Officials maintain that releasing more details would violate the strict Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Still, at least one lawmaker is calling for more transparency from the state, as other state governments have released more information on where victims of COVID-19 lived.
In a daily briefing Thursday, MDH Commissioner Jan Malcolm says the health department will begin sharing more information with the public when there is COVID-19 at long-term care facilities, including names of nursing homes and locations.
State officials say they are trying to balance patient privacy with public right to know when there is a COVID-19 case in the community.
MN Health Dept: Expect to post names of some long term facilities with Covid cases as early as tomorrow. Only facilities with 10 or more residents.
— Patrick Kessler (@PatKessler) April 2, 2020
Health officials did say that 11 of the 18 deaths involved someone in long-term care facilities or nursing homes.The largest cluster involves a long-term care facility with 8 cases.
So far, 47 long-term care facilities in Minnesota have at least one case of COVID-19. Forty-seven residents and 22 workers have tested positive.
More information on long-term care facilities and other specifics is expected to be released Friday.
On Wednesday, health officials urged the public to continue social distancing so as to curb the spread of the virus. Gov. Tim Walz also told people who venture outside for exercise to make sure they are giving others the appropriate space, especially in the state’s popular parks and trails.
Last week, the governor issued a stay-at-home order for Minnesota, directing residents to leave home only for essential activities, such as buying groceries, medicine and getting outdoor exercise. The order has been in place for five days, leaving many businesses and institutions closed. Nearly 300,000 people in Minnesota have filed for unemployment.