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Live updates: Walz could give update on COVID-19 holiday restrictions by end of week

Here are the latest developments on the spread of COVID-19 and efforts to combat the virus in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

ST PAUL, Minn. — Monday, Dec. 7

  • Minnesota will shorten quarantine period in line with CDC, still asks anyone who's able to quarantine the full 14 days
  • Walz says he may have an update on the COVID-19 'pause' by end of week
  • Minnesota health officials watching hospitalizations, deaths for impact from Thanksgiving gatherings
  • Walz says vaccine prioritization plans will come on Tuesday
  • Minnesotans have until Dec. 7 at 11:59 p.m. to request housing assistance

2:30 p.m.

Gov. Tim Walz said at a news conference Monday that he hopes to give an update on the COVID-19 "pause" and any further holiday restrictions by the end of the week.

"We want to give as much lead time as we possibly can," Walz said. 

Walz was asked about the restrictions after announcing that Minnesota will follow the CDC in shifting to a 10-day recommended quarantine after exposure to COVID-19, although anyone who is able will still be asked to commit to 14 days.

The governor said that he and the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) are waiting to see how the Thanksgiving holiday and any increased gatherings from that time will impact hospitalizations and deaths in the next week or so. That impact, he said, will come into decisions about mitigation efforts.

"We're going to start to see numbers be reflective of what happened over Thanksgiving," Walz said. "The lagging number will be hospitalizations versus the cases."

Walz acknowledged that cases and hospitalizations were beginning to plateau before Thanksgiving, but cautioned against drawing a direct causation from the four-week pause.

"The question I think we’re all asking is, will that plateau start to come back up again because of Thanksgiving?" Walz said.

He said at Day 11 after the holiday, those impacts are starting to show up, but it will take longer to see the full picture. However, he acknowledged that Minnesotans want to plan ahead.

"It is our hope to try and provide some guidance around mitigation efforts by the end of this week so that those folks will have a week in advance," he said. "And again, fair enough to say that's really, really hard to adjust your business in that short of amount of time."

Walz said he thinks this week's numbers should provide more guidance because of the length of the incubation period.

“This is the virus’ timeline but people live in the real world," Walz said. “We should start to have a pretty good idea this week."

Walz said that there is no option to "not do anything."

“We’re going to have to mitigate,” he said. "We know that when you don’t do anything it really is the pressure on the hospital situation and then the avoidable deaths that will start to happen."

He said he does not envision the U.S. opening up for the holidays, people flying without masks, and participating in large gatherings.

Walz said there is "every reason" to be optimistic about the vaccine and the light at the end of the tunnel, but that the rollout and impact will take months. "It's not going to happen when the first needle goes in an arm here," he said.

"The hardest weeks, I think, are still ahead of us," Walz said. "The most challenging weeks for our hospitals are still ahead of us."

He also acknowledged that it's the hardest time of the year to be apart from family and friends.

While he would not give an exact date for announcing any further mitigation measures, Walz did confirm that he and MDH will announce more details on Minnesota's vaccine rollout plan on Tuesday.

11 a.m.

New COVID-19 deaths in Minnesota are one-third of those reported Sunday, according to numbers shared Monday by the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH). 

An additional 21 people were recorded as dying from the virus over the past 24-hour reporting period, down from the 64 reported Sunday. That brings total fatalities since the onset of the pandemic to 4,005. Of those deaths 2,645, or 66% are tied to long-term care or assisted living settings. 

MDH says 5,296 new cases were reported in the last day, bringing the total number of positive cases in the state to 356,152. The new cases were based on the results of 63,573 tests (62,724 PCR, 849 antigen) processed in private and state labs.

A positive PCR test is considered a confirmed case by health officials, while a positive antigen test is considered a probable case.

Currently 1,567 hospital beds across the state are in use by COVID patients, and that number is trending down. Of those beds 362 are in the ICU. Total hospitalizations across the state are now up to 18,358 since the pandemic began, with 4,015 of those patients requiring care in the ICU.

MDH says 314,138 people who at one time tested positive for the virus have recovered enough to no longer require isolation. 

Young people between 20 and 24 continue to make up the largest group of cases in Minnesota with 37,265 and two deaths, followed by those 25 to 29 with 32,243 cases and four deaths. The largest group of coronavirus deaths involves people from 85 to 89, with 752 fatalities in 4,595 cases. 

Credit: KARE

Hennepin County reports the most COVID activity with 74,735 cases and 1,170 deaths followed by Ramsey County with 31,551 cases and 545 deaths, Dakota County with 25,282 cases and 217 deaths, and Anoka County with 25,033 cases and 246 fatalities.

Cook County in northeastern Minnesota reports the least COVID activity with 88 cases and zero deaths. 

Sunday, Dec.6

2 p.m.

The Wisconsin's Department of Health Services (WDHS) reported 2,791 new cases Sunday, bringing the total number of cases statewide to 409,386.

Health officials reported 17 new deaths on Sunday as the total number of fatalities in Wisconsin rose to 3,719, which is approximately 0.9% of those testing positive for the virus.  

Due to high case numbers, Gov. Tony Evers issued a new emergency order mandating indoor face coverings on Friday, Nov. 20 that will last 60 days.

On Oct. 6, Gov. Evers' administration issued a new order limiting the size of public indoor gatherings to 25% of capacity, to stem the spread of COVID-19. That order was struck down on Oct. 13 by a judge in Sawyer County. The order was reinstated on Oct. 19 by a Barron County judge, but on Oct. 23, a Wisconsin appeals court put a hold on the order.

Wisconsin health officials say a total of 18,216 people have been hospitalized from the coronavirus since the start of the pandemic, about 4.4% of the total number of people who have been diagnosed with the virus.  

Of the confirmed cases in Wisconsin, 20% involve people between the ages of 20 to 29, 16% are between 30 and 39, 15% are between 50 and 59, and 14% are 40 to 49. An estimated 11% are between 10 and 19, and another 11% are between 60 and 69.

As of Sunday, Milwaukee County reported the largest number of confirmed cases with 72,568, along with 775 deaths. Dane County has reported 29,053 confirmed cases and 104 deaths, Waukesha County has reported 28,223 confirmed cases and 232 deaths, and Brown County has reported 23,504 cases and 148 deaths.

11 a.m.

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) reported 5,588 new COVID-19 cases Sunday, along with 64 new deaths.

MDH's COVID-19 case definition was recently updated to include antigen testing. Previously, cases were only reported through polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing. Positive PCR test results are considered confirmed cases, while positive antigen test results are considered probable cases. 

MDH will combine these totals for its death, hospitalization and demographic reporting. The department will report the numbers separately for some other areas, like newly reported cases and total cases by county of residence. 

Sunday's new case total includes 5,349 confirmed cases and 239 probable cases.

The total number of Minnesotans who have tested positive for the virus since the pandemic began is now 350,862, with 8,459 of those as antigen test results. 

MDH says 64 new deaths from the virus were reported which pushes the total number of fatalities in Minnesota to 3,984.

To date, 18,233 Minnesotans have been hospitalized with the coronavirus since the pandemic started, with 3,991 of them needing care in the ICU.

MDH reports that 308,218 people once diagnosed with the virus have recovered enough that they no longer need isolation.

Of those who have tested positive, people between the ages of 20-24 account for the most cases with 36,816 cases and two deaths, and ages 25-29 follow with  
31,791 cases and four deaths. Those between 85 and 89 years old account for the highest number of fatalities in one age group with 749 out of 4,529 cases.

In terms of likely exposure to the coronavirus, MDH says 66,753 cases were the result of community transmission with no known contact with an infected person, and 60,309 had known contact with a person who has a confirmed case.

A total of 27,537 cases involved exposure in a congregate living setting, 5,787 were in a corrections setting, and 545 were in a homeless shelter. MDH data shows 15,944 were linked to an outbreak outside of congregate living or health care.

MDH says 20,378 cases were linked to travel. Health care workers or patients account for 9,312 of diagnosed COVID-19 cases. The source of transmission for 144,297 cases is still unknown or missing.

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 or even asymptomatic to be tested. Testing locations can be found online.

Hennepin County has the most COVID activity in the state with 73,512 cases and 1,167 deaths, followed by Ramsey County with 31,002 cases and 540 deaths, Anoka County with 24,617 cases and 245 deaths and Dakota County with
24,846 cases and 213 deaths.

Full data, including a breakdown of PCR and antigen test totals in some categories, can be found on MDH's website.

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.