By WCCO-TV Staff

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minnesota health officials on Friday reported 5,371 new cases of COVID-19 and 61 more deaths. Meanwhile, the rates at which the virus is spreading and Minnesotans are being hospitalized have fallen over the last two weeks.

The latest Minnesota Department of Health update shows that the state’s total COVID-19 infection count has nearly reached 339,000, with more than 293,000 people having recovered from the virus. The state’s death toll stands at 3,845.

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As of Thursday, 1,679 people were battling COVID-19 in Minnesota hospitals, with 367 people in intensive care. Per the state’s Response Capacity Dashboard, more than 100 ICU beds are available in the state. In the Twin Cities specifically, just over 5% of ICU beds are open. However, non-ICU beds in the metro are nearly full, with just over 2% still available.

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Since reaching record highs in recent weeks, both the state’s rates for hospitalizations and new cases per 100,000 residents have declined. Minnesota’s test positivity rate has also declined about 5% from a high of 15.6% in early November.

On Friday afternoon, Gov. Tim Walz and health officials are slated to highlight ways the state is working to protect residents is long-term care facilities. This demographic has been the hardest hit by the pandemic, with 2,559 residents having died since the outbreak began in March. Of the most recent deaths reported, 36 were residents in long-term care. About 30% of people living in long-term care facilities, such has nursing homes, have contracted COVID-19.

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