MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) on Thursday announced a large increase in COVID-19 testing in the state, with over 6,700 completed Wednesday. Meanwhile, officials reported 523 new cases and 25 more deaths.
The additional cases raise the state’s total of lab-confirmed cases to 13,435. Of that number, more than 8,400 have recovered and no longer need isolation. About 1,600 of the cases are health care workers.
Of the state’s 663 confirmed deaths so far, 537 occurred in long-term care or assisted living facilities. State officials recently released a five-point plan to help protect residents and workers in long-term care facilities.
Nearly 500 Minnesotans (498) are currently being hospitalized for the disease, with 203 needing intensive care. Nearly 2,000 Minnesotans have needed hospitalization since the outbreak began in March.
More cases are expected as testing continues to increase in the state, with the goal being 20,000 tests a day. MDH reports that there were 6,717 tests completed Wednesday, bringing the total number of completed tests to 128,752. That marks a new daily high in testing.
Hennepin, Stearns, Ramsey and Nobles counties are some of the state’s hot spots for COVID-19.
MDH officials continue to point out that the data is not representative of the total number of Minnesotans who have or had COVID-19, because not all suspected cases of COVID-19 are tested. Also, due to the need to confirm reports, as well as reporting delays, the current week’s data may still be incomplete. MDH’s daily update data is current as of 4 p.m. the previous day.
The MDH update comes a day after Gov. Tim Walz made major announcements on the state’s response to COVID-19. During a Wednesday evening address, Walz said he will extend the state’s peacetime emergency until mid-June, but will allow the stay-at-home order to expire next week.
The move will allow retail stores to reopen on May 18, but they must have safety plans in place and operate at 50% capacity.
In another big update, Walz said that bars, restaurants, salons and gyms can reopen on June 1 with certain restrictions in place.
He also recommends that gatherings of family and friends — with everyone wearing masks and practicing social distancing — do not exceed 10 people. The stay-at-home-order, which Walz dubbed “Stay Home MN,” will transition into what he calls, “Stay Safe MN.”
Because it is a new virus, health experts say there is much we do not know about COVID-19. Health experts do know it is a viral respiratory illness caused by coronavirus. Many of those who get the disease will have mild or moderate symptoms and won’t require hospitalization. But there are at-risk groups who have a higher risk of severe illness.