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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Hours before Gov. Tim Walz is expected to extend the peacetime state of emergency, Minnesota added another 431 cases of COVID-19 to its infection tally, and 24 additional deaths.

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Data updated Wednesday by the Minnesota Department of Health show that the state’s death toll has now climbed to 638. Most of the new fatalities — 17 — were residents in long term care facilities, such as nursing and assisted living homes, which have been devastated by the respiratory illness. So far, the deaths of 517 long-term care residents have been linked to COVID-19.

One of the new fatalities was a Hennepin County resident in their 30s, making them one of the youngest victims of the disease in Minnesota.

Currently, 494 people are battling the novel coronavirus in Minnesota hospitals. Of them, 199 are in intensive care beds — the same as Tuesday. According to officials, 280 ICU beds are currently vacant in the state, with an additional 800 able to be ready in a day’s notice.

Since the outbreak began in March, Minnesota has confirmed 12,917 cases of COVID-19. The disease can lead to serious breathing issues and can be deadly to the elderly and those with underlying health conditions.

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For most, however, symptoms are mild. According to health officials, roughly 8,000 Minnesotans have recovered from the disease and no longer require isolation.

Test processing in Minnesota has seen a steady rise. In the last 24 hours, more than 3,500 tests were processed in private and state-run labs, marking a sizable drop when compared to the last four days. The state’s goal is for daily testing to ramp up to 20,000 tests a day, enough for any Minnesotan showing symptoms to get tested.

At 6 p.m. Wednesday, the governor is scheduled to address Minnesotans via a video live stream. Both Democrat and Republican leaders say they expect the governor to extend the peacetime state of emergency, which is currently slated to expire Wednesday. The extension is expected to last 30 days, until June 12.

This state of emergency is different from the stay-at-home order. However, it does still allow Walz to issue executive orders and shut down schools as well as businesses. The stay-at-home order, which first went into effect in late March, is slated to expire on Monday.

Walz, a Democrat, is tasked with the difficult problem of reopening the state’s economy as COVID-19 continues to spread in Minnesota without showing signs of slowing. The governor is facing mounting pressure from Republicans as well as business owners to reopen more sectors of the economy as public health experts warn that reopening too soon could risk more outbreaks.

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