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Live updates: Minnesota schools urged to plan for three pandemic scenarios this fall

Here are the latest updates on the coronavirus pandemic in Minnesota.

Monday, June 15

  • MDH: Sunday's lower positive case numbers are likely to rise due to a computer error in test reporting
  • Minnesota schools asked to consider three scenarios for fall
  • Hennepin County crosses 10,000 mark in total coronavirus cases
  • American Red Cross now testing blood donations for COVID-19 antibodies

2 p.m.

Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) Commissioner Jan Malcolm said Monday's report of 230 new coronavirus cases marks three days of declines after three days of increases, however she noted the figures are likely to increase due to a computer error with tests reported on Sunday.

Malcolm also noted hospitalizations have declined for six days, calling it an "encouraging sign of stability." However, she also noted that overall hospitalization capacity in the state, including non-COVID cases, is relatively high.

As coronavirus case numbers are rising in other states like Arizona, MDH officials said it's too soon to tell if Minnesota will see a similar spike. MDH Infectious Disease Director Kris Ehresmann notes Sunday marked the typical 14 day incubation period since Minnesota's June 1 phase of reopening, but said it could take time for any symptomatic people to seek testing and get results.

"We're pleased when we have lower numbers, we're pleased when our health care system has time to breathe and catch up," Ehresmann said.

Malcolm also debunked an allegation that outbreaks at some long-term care facilities were started by COVID-positive patients being transferred into those facilities.

"We don't have any cases of spread in long-term care settings that we can trace ... to transfers into the facility," Malcolm said.

Ehresmann said 50% of long-term care facilities had a staff member as their first case. She also noted that out of 866 facilities reviewed last week, there was no evidence of transmission from a patient who was hospitalized and later returned to a care facility.

11:45 a.m.

The Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) said it plans to release guidance to school districts this week for contingency planning around the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

MDE is encouraging districts to plan for three potential scenarios in the fall:

  • Allow all students to return to school buildings under Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) guidelines
  • Allow a hybrid model of students in school buildings and distance learning
  • Implement distance learning, with no students in classrooms

"This situation is fluid and decisions will continue to be reviewed in the best interest of public health, and specifically the health and safety of our school communities," MDE said in a statement." As the situation evolves, decisions may change."

Department of Education leaders said they will consult with MDH and the Governor's Office and announce a decision on which scenario will be in the best interest of students and school communities by the week of July 27.

11 a.m.

Minnesota's overall downward trend for new coronavirus cases continued Monday, with the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) reporting 230 new cases. It marks the first time since late April that the daily report fell below the 300 mark.

MDH has stated the numbers are moving in a "wave pattern" in recent weeks, with a few days of decreasing cases followed by a day or two of an "uptick," and then another decline. New case numbers also tend to be lower following a weekend, when fewer tests are conducted. There were 5,031 tests on Sunday, a sharp decline from nearly 10,000 daily tests over the previous four days.

Daily hospitalizations for coronavirus have also reached the lowest level since late April, with 353 people currently hospitalized. MDH said 186 patients are currently in the ICU.

MDH said there were six additional deaths reported due to COVID-19, bringing the total to 1,304 deaths since the pandemic began. Of those deaths, 1,034 involved people residing in long-term care or assisted living facilities.

Overall, MDH reported 30,693 positive cases in the state since March, with 26,609 of those patients no longer requiring isolation.

Hennepin County crossed the 10,000 mark in total cases over the weekend, with 10,281 cases as of Monday, and 720 deaths. Ramsey County reported 3,992 total cases since the pandemic began.

10:30 a.m.

The American Red Cross announced it is now testing all blood, platelet and plasma donations for COVID-19 antibodies.

The organization emphasized the new testing is not intended as a diagnostic test for coronavirus, since a positive antibody test does not confirm current infection or immunity.

The American Red Cross said the need for blood donations also remains urgent, as hospitals resume procedures and treatments requiring blood products.

RELATED: American Red Cross now testing blood donations for COVID-19 antibodies

RELATED: Wanted: Coronavirus survivors willing to donate plasma

Sunday, June 14

11 a.m.

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) reports Sunday 15 more COVID-19 deaths in the state and an increase of 311 confirmed cases.

That brings the cumulative total cases to 30,471 since the pandemic began.

The total death toll in the state is at 1,298 with 1,030 deaths among those cases that resided in long-term care or assisted living facilities.

MDH reports that 26,090 people once diagnosed with the virus have recovered enough that they no longer require isolation. Health officials say 3,610 patients require hospitalization with 369 people hospitalized on Sunday and 186 patients are in the ICU.

Of those who have tested positive, people between the ages of 30-39 account for the most cases, with 6,178 cases and nine deaths. Those between 80 and 89 years old account for the highest number of fatalities in one age group, at 446, out of 1,440 confirmed cases. 

In terms of likely exposure to coronavirus, MDH says 6,887 cases involve exposure in a congregate living setting, 9,183 cases had known contact with a person who has a confirmed case, 6,816 cases had community transmission with no known contact with an infected person and 1,075 cases were linked to travel. Health care workers account for 1,976 of diagnosed COVID-19 cases.

Hennepin County has the most cases in the state at 10,191, with 716 deaths, followed by Ramsey County with 3,936 cases and 190 deaths. Stearns County reports 2,107 cases and 19 deaths.

MDH has prioritized testing for people in congregate care, hospitalized patients and health care workers, which may impact the scale of those numbers. However, now MDH is urging anyone who is symptomatic to be tested. Testing locations can be found online.

RELATED: Some airlines add pre-flight health questionnaire to COVID safety measures

KARE 11’s coverage of the coronavirus is rooted in Facts, not Fear. Visit kare11.com/coronavirus for comprehensive coverage, find out what you need to know about the Midwest specifically, learn more about the symptoms, and see what businesses are open as the state slowly lifts restrictions. Have a question? Text it to us at 763-797-7215. And get the latest coronavirus updates sent right to your inbox every morning. Subscribe to the KARE 11 Sunrise newsletter here. Help local families in need: www.kare11.com/give11

The state of Minnesota has set up a hotline for general questions about coronavirus at 651-201-3920 or 1-800-657-3903, available 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. There is also a data portal online at mn.gov/covid19.

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