MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Thursday marked another day of record-breaking COVID-19 case numbers in Minnesota as health officials reported 7,228 new infections in the last 24 hours. Additionally, 39 more deaths were recorded.
This is the second day in a row that pandemic records were broken in Minnesota. On Wednesday, the state documented its highest daily death count with 56 fatalities. The state’s death toll currently stands at 2,793.
Over the last week, Minnesota has seen an explosion of new cases, with daily new case counts rising higher and higher. Thursday’s count was the first time new infections breached the 7,000-case threshold. Since Monday, more than 20,000 Minnesotans have tested positive for COVID-19.
On Wednesday, Gov. Tim Walz told MPR News that Minnesota’s positivity rate is currently around 20%, meaning that one in five people who get tested find out they have the virus. According to health officials, more than 48,000 people were tested in the last day, which also marks a daily record.
As more Minnesotans are testing positive, more are being admitted to state hospitals. According to officials, nearly 1,300 people were hospitalized as of Wednesday, with 282 people in intensive care. At no other point during the pandemic have hospitalizations been higher.
To combat this surge in cases, Walz announced new restrictions this week for bars and restaurants. He ordered them to close for dine-in service by 10 p.m. Also, he lowered the limit on indoor and outdoor social gatherings to 10 people.
According to health officials, the recent spike in cases can be traced to young adults going out to bars and restaurants, as well as social events like weddings. Health officials are urging Minnesotans not to succumb to “COVID fatigue” and to continue to wear masks, practice social distancing and get tested if exposed or feeling sick.
The state has also invested heavily in testing, opening free saliva testing sites around the state so as to track the spread of the virus. The ninth saliva testing site opened Thursday morning at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. Next week, 11 more testing sites will open at Minnesota National Guard armories across the state.
Since the start of the pandemic in March, 201,795 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in Minnesota. Of those, nearly 160,000 have recovered and no longer need to self-isolate.