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Live updates: Minnesota COVID-19 cases hit new record, alongside new testing record

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

ST PAUL, Minn. — Friday, Oct. 16 

  • MDH records 2,297 new COVID cases, alongside a new testing record
  • Judge blocks Evers' order limiting bar and restaurant capacity 
  • Gov. Tim Walz announces more saliva testing sites going up this week
  • MDH says testing capacity will double, from 30,000 to 60,000 per day
  • Governor says the upper Midwest is now a COVID "hot spot"

2 p.m.

The Minnesota Department of Health held a live briefing Friday at 2 p.m. about COVID-19 in the state. 

On the call, health officials spoke on today's large, "eye-popping" number. MDH Commissioner Jan Malcolm said the number is "sobering" and "worrying."

"That's family, friends, colleagues, loved ones," she said. 

Malcolm also spoke on Minnesota's rise in new hospitalizations.  

"The new daily admissions to the hospitals and ICU... clearly are trending upward," she said. "This week, we're saddened to see rises in the number of deaths we're reporting." 

Malcolm stressed that Friday's numbers were not due to a backlog or any particular large outbreak. She said the cases were spread out across Minnesota, not in any one area. She added that more testing centers are open across the state. 

"It is the result of steady, inexorable spread in communities across the state, by people who don't know they have the virus."

Malcolm said some activities that seemed OK a month ago may not be a good idea now due to the state's level of community spread.

"We've been dealing with this for seven months and the exhaustion and weight of this situation is real." 

MDH official Kris Ehresmann spoke on transmission in healthcare settings. She said MDH has seen a shift in recent weeks, where community spread leads to healthcare workers being exposed. That's contrary to an earlier trend, in which spread was often within a facility.

She said the problem isn't just when healthcare workers are infected. Even if they're just exposed, they still are unable to work for a period of time, making staff shortages worse.  

Also on the call was Jennifer Decubellis, CEO of Hennepin Healthcare. She said the community needs to do its part to decrease COVID-19 spread, keeping the state's healthcare systems staffed. 

"We need you now," Decubellis said. "Masks are not political; they're essential... Staff are part of the community, our community."

Decubellis said "most" hospital systems across the state have had to decrease bed capacity due to staff shortages due to COVID-19 exposure.

When asked about current test turnaround times, Malcolm said long turnaround times are due to processing at national laboratories. She said that's why Minnesota is adding a COVID-19 testing lab in the state. 

Ehresmann added that the turnaround time in Minnesota is generally good, and that very long testing times are generally a "one-off" issue. 

11 a.m.

New COVID case numbers from the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) shared Friday are jarring.

MDH recorded 2,297 newly reported cases of the coronavirus, which would be Minnesota's single-day high. But Department of Health spokesman Doug Schultz says Friday's total includes a small backlog of cases that may involve antigen tests. 

Friday's case numbers bring the total number of Minnesotans who have tested positive for the virus to 119,396 since the pandemic began. 

Reported testing volume Friday was high as well, with 44,398 tests (a combination of PCR and Antigen) processed in private and state labs.

Another 13 people have died from COVID-19, bringing state fatalities to 2,212. Of that number 1,559, or 70% of them occurred in assisted living or long-term care settings. 

MDH says 105,120 people who at one time tested positive for coronavirus have recovered to the point they no longer require isolation. 

Total hospitalizations in the state have risen to 8,718 since the start of the pandemic, with 2,375 of the patients showing symptoms serious enough to require care in the ICU. 

People between the ages of 20 and 24 make up the largest group of Minnesota's cases, with 15,489 people in that demographic testing positive and one dying. Those between 25 and 29 make up 11,619 cases and three deaths, while 15 to 19-year-olds account for 11,066 cases and zero deaths.

The largest group of fatalities involves people from 85 to 89. Of that group 380 have died from the virus, in just 1,614 cases. That means nearly one in four diagnosed with coronavirus died from it (23%). 

Hennepin County accounts for much of Minnesota's COVID activity, with 31,417 cases and 962 deaths. Ramsey County reports 12,880 cases and 341 fatalities, while Dakota County has registered 8,912 cases and 133 deaths. 

Cook County in northeastern Minnesota has the least COVID activity with just eight cases and no fatalities, while Kittson County reports 23 cases, reflecting an uptick from Thursday. Health officials say those two counties are now the only ones eligible under state guidance policies to conduct 100% in-person learning. 

Credit: KARE

Thursday, Oct. 15 

11 a.m. 

Minnesota health officials are reporting another day of new COVID-19 cases over 1,000, a trend that continues to cause worry with state policy makers. 

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) says 1,169 people tested positive over the past day, bringing the total number of cases in the state to 117,106 since the pandemic began. That number is confirmed through a combination of PCR and Antigen tests. 

Thursday marks the eighth straight day new cases have numbered over 1,000. 

An additional 19 people have died of coronavirus, bringing state fatalities to 2,199. Of those deaths 1,546, or 70%  have occurred in long-term or assisted living settings.

Credit: KARE

MDH says 104,547 people who at one time tested positive for the virus have recovered to the point they no longer require isolation. 

Hospitalizations across the state now total 8,652, with 2,362 of those patients needing care in the ICU. 

Those between the ages of 20 and 24 account for Minnesota's largest group of COVID cases with 15,262 and one fatality. People from 25 to 29 make up 11,419 cases and three fatalities, while the age group from 15 to 19 comprise 19,891 cases and zero deaths. 

Hennepin County has the most COVID activity, reporting 31,111 confirmed cases and 962 deaths. Ramsey County has 12,744 confirmed cases and 338 deaths, while Dakota County reports 8,796 cases, 133 of them fatal. 

Cook County in northeastern Minnesota has the least COVID activity with eight cases and zero deaths, while Kittson County in far northwest Minnesota reports just 19 cases.

Credit: KARE

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.