MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — As Gov. Tim Walz stands poised to return the state to a more locked-down status Wednesday, Minnesota health officials reported 5,102 more cases of COVID-19 in the state and 67 more deaths, marking the highest daily number of fatal cases ever recorded in the state.
According to Minnesota Department of Health data, the new infections tallied bring the state’s total number of cases to 242,043. The additional fatalities bring the state’s death toll to 3,010. The newly reported deaths ranged in age from late 50s to over 100 years old.READ MORE: Minnesota Runner Qualifies To Race In 2021 Tokyo Olympics
According to the state’s Dial Back Dashboard, Minnesota’s positivity rate is at 15.3% as of Nov. 9. That matches the highest it’s ever been in the state, which was previously recorded on April 28. Also, the state now averages over 112 daily new COVID cases per 100,000 residents, which is by far the highest that metric has ever been.
Also, the rate of hospitalizations against the total population has never been higher. The state is reporting 27 hospitalizations per 100,000 residents as of Nov. 9. The state considers a rate of eight hospitalizations per 100,000 to be “high risk” status.
With the rising number of infections, more people are entering Minnesota hospitals. As of Monday, more than 1,700 people were listed as currently hospitalized with the virus, with 355 in intensive care. At no point during the pandemic have hospitalizations been higher.
Of the 1,440 ICU beds the state currently has available, 1,153 are currently in use. The state does have the ability to add more than 400 new ICU beds within 72 hours.
The only metric by which Minnesota is not currently considered to be in “high risk” territory is the number of daily tests being completed. In the last 24 hours, roughly 37,000 tests were processed for Minnesotans. Over the weekend, the state hit a testing capacity record, with over 60,000 tests processed in a single day.
While hospitals are now better able to treat COVID than at the start of the outbreak, there’s rising concern that the health care system will be overwhelmed if the virus continues to spread unabated. Health officials are urging the public to wear masks, practice social distancing and get tested if feeling sick or exposed to the virus.READ MORE: Minnesota Weather: Saturday Is A #Top10WxDay, Rain Likely For Father's Day
The latest CDC data shows about 7% of all deaths in the state have involved COVID this year. Based on the 2017 mortality figures, that would make it likely that COVID-19 is accounting for the third-largest number of deaths in the state this year, behind cancer and heart disease.
Walz is expected to announce that, starting Friday, gyms will have to close and that restaurants and bars will have to go to take-out only. He’s also expected to pause youth sports and high school sports beginning Saturday. The governor and the state’s health department held a news conference Tuesday where Minnesotans affected by the virus spoke out. Walz said that there is a danger of running short of health care workers.
“The velocity that this is moving now compared to any other time is simply stunning,” Walz said. “It would be easy to tell you this is going to be over but it is not. It’s going to be a very difficult four weeks.”
In recent weeks, the state has opened several free testing sites in cities across Minnesota. Eleven more such sites were set to open this week, mainly in Minnesota National Guard armories. Also, anyone in Minnesota can now request a free mail-in test. No symptoms or insurance are needed.
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Since the start of the outbreak, 242,043 people in Minnesota have tested positive for the virus. Of those, more than 193,000 have recovered and no longer need to self-isolate.
Most of the state’s deaths have been residents in long-term care facilities, such as nursing homes. Of the most recent fatalities reported, 12 of the victims were in long-term care facilities.MORE NEWS: Motorcyclist Dies After Collision With Tractor In Shafer