MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) on Thursday reported nearly 8,000 new COVID-19 infections and a record daily high of 72 deaths. Meanwhile, Gov. Tim Walz is calling the situation “untenable” and is asking Congress to provide immediate relief.

It marks two consecutive days of record-high daily deaths (67 reported on Wednesday). Fifty-one of the 72 additional deaths reported Thursday were of those who reside in long-term care and assisted living facilities.

Most of the deaths involved people in their 60s and older, but one death involved a person 35 to 39 years old in Wilkin County. The state’s death toll now sits at 3,082, with 2,117 of the deaths being in LTC or assisted living situations.

MDH says 7,877 new cases were reported in the last 24 hours. Just over 249,000 COVID-19 cases have been tallied in the state so far, with 19,197 of those cases being among health care workers; 198,365 of those who contracted the virus no longer need to quarantine themselves.

According to the state’s Dial Back Dashboard, the state’s seven-day rolling average positivity rate is 15.3% as of Nov. 9, due to data lag. That puts Minnesota in a “high risk” status.

In hospitals, 14,171 have needed treatment for COVID-19 since the pandemic began. Of those, 3,346 required intensive care units.

Hospitals have been strained as the pandemic continues to worsens in the state. There are 367 COVID-19 cases that are currently in ICU beds and 1,384 cases needing non-ICU beds, as of Nov. 18.

Testing continues to expand in the state, and the last 24 hours were no exception, with nearly 57,000 tests completed. About 2.2 million people have been tested in Minnesota.

Gov. Walz Calls The Figures ‘Staggering’, Calls On Congress For Relief

Earlier Thursday morning, Walz called MDH’s death figures “absolutely staggering and heartbreaking.”

Walz made the comments during an Emergency Executive Council Meeting to approve the governor’s new four-week dial back.

“We’re going to need a massive buy-in from the people of Minnesota to do the basic things to protect their neighbors, and this executive order starts moving in that direction,” Walz said.

On Thursday afternoon, Walz also called on Congress to provide immediate COVID-19 relief for workers, families, businesses and states.

“The current situation is simply untenable,” Walz said after sending the letter. “As the virus surges and demands pauses on our economy, we need federal support to ensure Minnesotans can make ends meet. We need Congress to act immediately to help keep our businesses afloat, our workers paid, and our families with food on the table. I will continue to fight with every fiber of my being for that support that you need and deserve.”

Walz says current CARES Act funding must be used by Dec. 30 and, at that time, will leave states without the federal resources to combat the pandemic.

More On Restrictions

Early Wednesday evening, Walz officially announced new COVID-19 restrictions that impact social gatherings, restaurants, gyms and sports for four weeks.

RELATED: COVID In Minnesota: Gov. Walz Unveils Restrictions On Social Gatherings, Restaurants, Gyms, Youth Sports

The restrictions are in effect between Friday at 11:59 p.m. and Friday, Dec. 18. In-person social gatherings with people outside of your household are prohibited. Bars and restaurants will have to go take-out only. Gyms and entertainment spaces will need to close, and wedding receptions, private parties and celebrations will also be restricted. Adult and youth sports will be put on pause, but college and pro sports are exempt.

Schools will continue to operate under Walz’s Safe Learning Plan, which shifts students between in-person, distance and hybrid learning depending on the local spread of the virus.

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