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Live updates: MDH says recent COVID-19 trends have made decision on schools 'more challenging'

Here are the latest updates on COVID-19 in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Monday, July 27

  • Minnesota surpasses 50K COVID-19 cases, sees a case in every county over the weekend
  • MDH says Minnesota is in a 'vulnerable state' with recent trends in the wrong direction
  • World's largest coronavirus vaccine study gets started in U.S.
  • Minnesotans await Thursday decision on schools, MDH says recent case growth makes it 'more challenging'

2 p.m.

Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) Commissioner Jan Malcolm said Monday that Minnesota saw its highest single-day COVID-19 case count over the weekend.

The 875 new cases from Saturday represented the highest tally in one 24-hour period, according to Malcolm, excluding one day in July that was artificially high due to a changeover in the data system.

The median age of cases in Minnesota remains at 36 years old and has "fallen quite rapidly" over the last couple of months, Malcolm said.

Minnesota also surpassed the 50,000-case mark over the weekend.

Malcolm said that after the mask mandate went into effect on Saturday, MDH received more than 80 complaints over the weekend about people not following the rules.

"We know and appreciate that many people are concerned when they see violations of social distancing and masking," she said.

MDH Infectious Disease Division Director Kris Ehresmann said that number of complaints "wasn't a huge increase."

"The fact that we had 80 this weekend is within the realm of what we’ve seen in the past," she said. Ehresmann said a majority of the complaints over the past weekend were related to employees or patrons not wearing masks. One was about an employee wearing a "Halloween-type mask" rather than a cloth face mask.

Malcolm said MDH does not want Minnesota to experience the same "catastrophic" fast COVID-19 case growth that some other parts of the country have seen.

"We have it in our power to prevent that really rapid and uncontrolled spread by doing the right thing for each other," she said.

Ehresmann said they have noticed people holding outdoor gatherings like graduation parties in recent days. She acknowledged that outdoor settings are safer than indoor.

"It's important to keep in mind that when we do that, we're still thinking that people will be social distancing," she said. "That benefit of being outdoors really comes into question when you have people gathering closer than 6 feet."

At gatherings where it's difficult to keep 6 feet between people, Ehresmann said, masks are encouraged.

MDH keeps track of five "dial back indicators" online - factors they look at to determine whether Minnesota needs to begin rolling back some of the reopening measures. Three of the five are past the "caution" threshold as of Monday.

Malcolm pointed out that the indicators are based on a seven-day rolling average, so there is a "lag factor."

"We’re actually looking in the rearview mirror at where things were a week ago," she said. "These threshold levels have been set at a place that we think gives us a little bit of lead time to see where the trends are going and to begin to talk about mitigation measures of what to do."

Malcolm said MDH and Gov. Tim Walz have been "frankly signaling greater concern that these measures are going in the wrong direction."

She said that's why the governor issued a mask mandate, and why MDH has been repeating warnings frequently about wearing masks, keeping 6 feet between people, and avoiding close contact for a long duration, even outdoors.

"We do feel like we are in sort of a vulnerable state," Malcolm said.

She said if Minnesotans can understand the importance of complying with public health guidance, they can impact those rates within a few weeks. 

"There could be a time when we do need to dial back if the things that we’re seeing continue to go in an unfavorable manner," Ehresmann said.

Malcolm addressed questions about the impending decision expected Thursday on whether students go back to school this fall.

"It’s very possible that schools will be using more than one model for the school year," she said.

Malcolm said the next few weeks are "critical" for following public health guidance.

"The trends of the last few weeks have made this analysis more challenging because we know that what happens in the larger community affects what happens in the schools," she said. "It certainly affects the confidence levels of everyone about that question."

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11 a.m.

Cases of coronavirus have now been reported in every Minnesota county, with Lake of the Woods finally getting its first confirmed case.

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) reported 650 new COVID-19 cases and two additional deaths on Monday.

The new cases were reported out of a daily testing volume of 13,542. Testing volumes and by extension new case numbers tend to be lower early in the week, as fewer people go in for testing over the weekend.

MDH reports that 257 people are hospitalized, with 126 of them in the ICU. That's the second day in a row that hospitalizations have decreased, but the highest number of ICU cases in five days.

Credit: KARE
COVID-19 hospitalizations in Minnesota as of Monday, July 27, 2020.

People ages 20-29 have now far surpassed other ages as the largest group of COVID-19 cases, with 12,288 as of Monday. The next-largest group is people in their 30s with 9,610. People ages 80-89 account for the highest number of deaths in one age group, at 533.

Community exposure with no known contact with a COVID-19 case now accounts for more cases than any other cause. That number is a key indicator for state health officials deciding whether to roll back Minnesota's reopening measures.

MDH and Gov. Tim Walz hope the new statewide mask mandate will help to quell that community spread. Monday is the first weekday it's in effect, after it officially started on Saturday.

Parents, teachers, students and others across the state are awaiting a Thursday decision on whether students will go back into classrooms this fall.

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Sunday, July 26

2:30 p.m.

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services reported 957 new COVID-19 cases Sunday as the total number of confirmed cases rose to 48,827. 

Health officials announced one new death Sunday, raising the total number of fatalities statewide to 892. That's just under 2% of those testing positive for the virus.

Wisconsin health officials say a total of 4,394 people have been hospitalized for the coronavirus since the start of the pandemic, roughly 9% of the total number of people who have been diagnosed with the virus. 

Of the confirmed cases in Wisconsin, 25% involve people between the ages of 20 to 29, 17% are between 30 and 39, 14% are between 40 and 49, and 13% are 50 to 59. An estimated 9% are between 60 and 69, and 9% are between 10 and 19.

As of Friday, Milwaukee County reported the largest number of cases with 18,140 and 427 deaths. Dane County reports 3,831 cases and 33 deaths, while Brown County has registered 3,766 cases and 50 deaths.

11:30 a.m.

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) announced Sunday that the number of positive coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in Minnesota has increased by 871 bringing the cumulative total to 51,153.

Three more people also died, bringing the death total to 1,574.

Health officials say 1,205 deaths have taken place in long-term care or assisted living facilities.

Of the three new deaths, one occurred in long-term care and two at private residences.

MDH also said Sunday that the total number of tests taken is at 957,374.

Health officials also say 4,920 total cases have required hospitalization. Of the total cases as of Sunday, 217 people remained in the hospital with 115 patients in intensive care. 

MDH says 44,431 people no longer need to be isolated.

Of those who have tested positive, people between the ages of 20-29 account for the most cases with 12,126 cases and three deaths, and those ages 30-39 follow with 9,500 cases and 12 deaths. Those between 80 and 89 years old account for the highest number of fatalities in one age group at 532, out of 1,778 confirmed cases.

In terms of likely exposure to the coronavirus, MDH says 7,857 cases involved exposure in a congregate living setting, 648 were in a corrections setting, and 207 were in a homeless shelter. A total of 10,018 cases had known contact with a person who has a confirmed case, 11,232 cases had community transmission with no known contact with an infected person, and 5,601 were linked to an outbreak outside of congregate living or health care.

MDH says 3,525 cases were linked to travel. Health care workers or patients account for 3,618 of diagnosed COVID-19 cases.

Hennepin County has the most cases in the state at 16,316, with 807 deaths, followed by Ramsey County with 6,253 cases and 254 deaths. Dakota County reports 3,475 cases and 102 deaths.

2 p.m.

Wisconsin's Department of Health Services reported 953 new cases Saturday as the total number of confirmed cases rose to 47,870. Health officials announced 13 new deaths Saturday, raising the total number of fatalities statewide to 891. That's just under 2% of those testing positive for the virus.

Wisconsin health officials say a total of 4,368 people have been hospitalized for the coronavirus since the start of the pandemic, roughly 9.1% of the total number of people who have been diagnosed with the virus. 

Of the confirmed cases in Wisconsin, 26% involve people between the ages of 20 to 29, 17% are between 30 and 39, 14% are between 40 and 49, and 13% are 50 to 59. An estimated 9% are between 60 and 69, and 9% are between 10 and 19.

A more detailed breakdown of cases by county can be found on the DHS website.

11 a.m.

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) reported 805 newly confirmed COVID-19 cases Saturday, bringing the total number of Minnesotans who have tested positive for the virus since the pandemic began to 50,291.

MDH says another five Minnesotans have died of complications from the virus during the past day, bringing the total number of fatalities in the state to 1,571.

Minnesota hospitals are currently treating 287 patients for the coronavirus, with 115 of them dealing with symptoms serious enough to require care in the ICU.

MDH reports that 43,625 people once diagnosed with the virus have recovered enough that they no longer require isolation.

Of those who have tested positive, people between the ages of 20-29 account for the most cases with 11,900 cases and three deaths, and those ages 30-39 follow with 9,316 cases and 12 deaths. Those between 80 and 89 years old account for the highest number of fatalities in one age group at 531, out of 1,765 confirmed cases.

Hennepin County has the most cases in the state at 16,067, with 806 deaths, followed by Ramsey County with 6,164 cases and 253 deaths. Dakota County reports 3,386 cases and 102 deaths.

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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 data portal online at mn.gov/covid19.