MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A day before the Thanksgiving holiday, Minnesota health officials reported 6,399 cases of COVID and 72 additional deaths, which is tied for the highest single-day deaths the state has seen.

The additional numbers bring the state’s cumulative infections to 289,303, with a death toll of 3,375. Of the deaths recorded Wednesday, 48 took place in long-term care facilities. Though the elderly population is the one most heavily hit by the virus, young people are also dying, with a person in the 40-to 44-year-old age range dying in Ramsey County.

The rising COVID cases continue to strain Minnesota hospitals, as staff deal with the toll of caring for so many sick patients. Workers have also been out due to COVID cases and related quarantines. But at the same time, hospitalizations in the state have never been higher. There were 1,828 people in Minnesota hospitals as of Tuesday, with 379 cases in the ICU. According to health officials, nearly 70% of the state’s ICU beds are currently in use.

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As part of the fight against the virus, the state has opened free community testing sites across Minnesota. In the past 24 hours, 65,552 tests have been processed, also a record number (2,695 were antigen tests). Since the pandemic initially hit in March, nearly 2.4 million people have been tested for COVID.

Other recent health measures include a new COVID app, which tells people if they have been within six feet someone who has tested positive for the disease. Last week, Gov. Tim Walz also ordered Minnesota bars and restaurants to go take-out only, gyms to close, and youth sports to be put on pause.

Community spread has risen dramatically in the state. According to the Dial Back Dashboard, the state’s seven-day rolling average positivity rate sits at 14.3% as of Nov. 15, due to data lag. A number over 10% puts the state in a “high risk” status.

COVID has surged across the country, hitting the upper-midwest especially hard. Ahead of Thanksgiving, the Center for Disease Control is encouraging people to celebrate the holiday within their own household and limit travel.

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