MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Hours before Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz was expected to announce new COVID-19 restrictions, state health officials on Tuesday reported 4,906 more cases of the virus and 23 more deaths.
Minnesota is currently experiencing a surge in cases of the respiratory illness. Last week brought several days of record-breaking case numbers, capping off with nearly 6,000 new infections reported Sunday. Meanwhile, daily death counts have consistently been in the double digits.
On Monday, the governor said the pandemic is entering a “dangerous phase,” adding that he plans to announce new restrictions Tuesday afternoon. Sources tell WCCO-TV that those restrictions will include closing bars and restaurants by 10 p.m.
As case numbers have climbed in Minnesota, so have hospitalizations. As of Monday, 1,224 people were in Minnesota hospitals with the virus, more than at any point since the outbreak began in March. About 20% of those currently hospitalized are in intensive care beds. While hospitals are better able to treat the virus now than earlier in the pandemic, there’s concern that facilities will be overwhelmed if case counts continue to increase.
In the last 24 hours, nearly 34,000 COVID-19 tests were processed for people in Minnesota, including 63 antigen tests. According to the state’s Dial Back Dashboard, Minnesota’s positivity rate is at 12% as of Nov. 1, marking a 7% increase since early October.
Testing is one tool health officials are using to combat the virus and track it’s spread in Minnesota. The state has invested significantly in boosting testing capacity. On Monday, the state’s eighth free saliva testing site opened at the Minneapolis Convention Center. Another is slated to open later this week at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. Additionally, 11 more testing sites are set to open next week at Minnesota National Guard armories across the state.
Since the start of the outbreak nine months ago, 189,681 people in Minnesota have tested positive for COVID-19. Of them, more than 153,000 have recovered and no longer need to self-isolate. Minnesota’s COVID-19 death toll is currently at 2,698. A majority of victims (1,860) have been residents in long-term care. Of the most recent deaths reported Tuesday, nine of the victims were in long-term care facilities.