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Live updates: New COVID-19 cases decline for 4th day in Minnesota

The latest developments in the COVID-19 pandemic in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Tuesday, June 16

  • Gov. Walz signs bill providing $62.5 million to small business
  • MDH reports 197 new COVID-19 cases, nine additional deaths
  • 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

7:30 p.m.

Governor Tim Walz announced the signing of an economic stimulus bill (H.F. 5) into law that will provide nearly $62.5 million in grant money for small businesses struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Around $60 million of the funds allocated will be drawn up from the federal CARES Act, with the remaining $2.5 million coming from Minnesota's Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED). 

In a press release put out Tuesday night, Walz said, “One of our top priorities during this special legislative session is to build a stronger and more equitable economy, and this direct assistance is an important piece of that plan. We will continue working with the legislature to ensure Minnesota’s economic recovery lifts up our Black, Brown, Indigenous, veteran, female, and Greater Minnesota business owners, who have been hit hard by this pandemic.” 

According to the release, the bill makes small businesses with 50 or less employees eligible for up to $10,000 in grant money. 

Nearly half of the funding will go toward Greater Minnesota businesses, at least $10 million will go toward minority-owned businesses, $2.5 million toward veteran-owned businesses, $2.5 million toward women-owned businesses and $2.5 million toward the support of cultural malls.

The Lt. Gov. weighed in saying, “This funding will support businesses across Minnesota and will be a critical lifeline for underrepresented entrepreneurs, including women, veterans, people of color, and Indigenous folks, to help communities rebuild. I’m grateful to the Legislature for listening to the needs of communities that are historically under-supported. Minnesotans value our small businesses and our main streets, especially during this difficult time. Our Administration stands with them as they weather this pandemic.”

The press release states more information will be made available to the public in the coming weeks on DEED's website.

2 p.m.

"There’s reasons to be optimistic," Gov. Tim Walz said Tuesday, after the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) reported that new COVID-19 cases fell below 200 on Monday.

However, Walz was careful to note the pandemic is ongoing in Minnesota.

"I don’t act like this thing is over. … We might be in the early innings," he said. "We have a pretty good trend line that we were hoping to that’s relatively flat."

Walz said he and state health officials continue to be concerned about potential community spread, adding that it is always best to know how a person got sick and where they got sick.

11 a.m.

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) is reporting low numbers of COVID-19 tests and positive new cases Tuesday.

MDH identified an additional 197 positive coronavirus cases in the state based on the 6,294 tests completed on Monday. Case numbers are generally lower on Mondays and Tuesdays, because they are often based on smaller numbers of samples collected over the weekend.

Tuesday's numbers bring Minnesota to 30,882 COVID-19 cases in total. Nine additional deaths were reported as well, bringing the death total statewide to 1,313. Seventy-nine percent of those deaths were in long-term care or assisted living facilities.

As of Tuesday, 357 people are hospitalized due to the coronavirus across the state, with 185 of them in the ICU. The overall hospitalization number is up from Monday, but ICU cases are down by one. Those numbers follow a trend of relatively stable or decreasing hospitalizations in recent weeks.

Monday, June 15

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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.

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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.