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Live updates: MDH reports 7,219 new cases, 40 deaths

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

ST PAUL, Minn. — Sunday, Nov. 22

2 p.m.

The Wisconsin's Department of Health Services (WDHS) reported 3,507 new cases Sunday, bringing the total number of cases statewide to 354,676.

Health officials reported no new deaths on Sunday. That follows three days of single-day death totals over 75 that occurred this week.  The total number of fatalities in Wisconsin is 3,005, 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 Tuesday, 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 15,823 people have been hospitalized from the coronavirus since the start of the pandemic, about 4.5% 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 61,739, along with 700 deaths. Waukesha County has reported 23,692 confirmed cases and 181 deaths, Dane County has reported 24,866 confirmed cases and 75 deaths, and Brown County has reported 21,057 cases and 127 deaths.

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 7,219 new COVID-19 cases Sunday, along with 40 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 6,934 confirmed cases and 285 probable cases.

RELATED: What are the different types of coronavirus tests?

The total number of Minnesotans who have tested positive for the virus since the pandemic began is now 270,157 with 4,660 of those as antigen test results. 

MDH says 40 new deaths from the virus were reported in the past day. This pushes the total number of fatalities in Minnesota to 3,241.

To date, 14,929 Minnesotans have been hospitalized with the coronavirus since the pandemic started, with 3,452 of them needing care in the ICU.

MDH reports that 219,720 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 30,005 cases and two deaths, and ages 25-29 follow with  
25,139 cases and three deaths. Those between 85 and 89 years old account for the highest number of fatalities in one age group with 595, out of 3,391 cases.

In terms of likely exposure to the coronavirus, MDH says 50,872 cases were the result of community transmission with no known contact with an infected person, and 45,325 had known contact with a person who has a confirmed case.

A total of 21,987 cases involved exposure in a congregate living setting, 4,785
were in a corrections setting, and 488 were in a homeless shelter. MDH data shows 13,896 were linked to an outbreak outside of congregate living or health care.

MDH says 17,234 cases were linked to travel. Health care workers or patients account for 7,088 of diagnosed COVID-19 cases. The source of transmission for 108,482 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 57,175 cases and 1,084 deaths, followed by Ramsey County with 23,992 cases and 470 deaths, and Anoka County with 18,416 cases and 213 deaths.

Saturday, Nov. 21

  • First full day of new COVID-19 restrictions begin in Minnesota; gyms, indoor dining closed, youth sports paused
  • Walz announces $1.2 million donation from IKEA US Community Foundation to be used for mental health services
  • Minnesota hospitals warn they are running out of healthy staff
  • 83 of 87 counties now under distance learning recommendations

2 p.m.

Wisconsin's Department of Health Services (WDHS) reported 6,224 new cases Saturday, bringing the total number of cases statewide to 351,169.

Health officials reported 51 deaths on Saturday. That follows three days of single-day death totals over 75 that occurred this week.  The total number of fatalities in Wisconsin is 3,005, 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.

Wisconsin health officials say a total of 15,734 people have been hospitalized from the coronavirus since the start of the pandemic, about 4.5% 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 Saturday, Milwaukee County reported the largest number of confirmed cases with 61,165, along with 699 deaths. Waukesha County has reported 23,661 confirmed cases and 181 deaths, Dane County has reported 24,654 confirmed cases and 75 deaths, and Brown County has reported 21,057 cases and 127 deaths.

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

11 a.m.

New numbers released Saturday by the Minnesota Department of Health show deaths and new cases of COVID-19 remain high, but both dipped since Thursday and Friday. Testing totals decreased as well. 

51 deaths were reported in the past 24 hours. That follows three consecutive days of deaths at 67 or above -- including Thursday's record 72. 

In total, 3,201 Minnesotans have lost their lives to COVID-19. Of those deaths, 2,192 (68%) are tied to assisted living or long term care settings. 

MDH says 6,265 new COVID-19 cases were reported. That's based on the results of 52,025 tests (51,004 PCR tests, 1,021 Antigen tests) processed in private and state labs. State health officials say positive PCR tests are confirmed cases, while positive Antigen tests are considered probable cases. The total number of daily tests dipped by over 6,500 since Friday's reported number. 

The new cases bring the statewide total to 262,952. Of those, 4,378 are from Antigen tests and considered probable.

Hospitalizations have climbed to 14,745 since the pandemic hit Minnesota, with 3,427 of those patients requiring care in the ICU.

More than 211,500 people who once tested positive for the virus no longer needing to be isolated. 

Young adults continue to be a major concern for state health officials. Those age 20 to 24 make up the largest group of coronavirus cases, with 29,442 cases and two deaths, followed by people 25 to 29 with 24,584 cases and three deaths. The 30 to 34 demographic accounts for 22,378 cases and nine deaths. 

The largest grouping of deaths from the virus involves people 85 to 89, with 588 fatalities in just 3,274 confirmed cases. 

Hennepin County has the most COVID activity in the state with 56,816 cases and 1,080 deaths, followed by Ramsey County with 24,102 cases and 461 deaths, and Anoka County with 18,740 cases and 210 fatalities. 

Cook County in northeastern Minnesota has the least COVID activity, with just 54 cases and zero deaths, followed by Lake of the Woods County with 78 cases and one death.

Credit: KARE
This chart shows the daily reported death totals for Minnesota as of Nov. 21.

Friday, Nov. 20

2 p.m.

On Friday, Governor Tim Walz spoke in his fifth press briefing in as many days about the COVID-19 pandemic, just hours before the restrictions put in place earlier this week will come into effect.

Today he said he wanted to acknowledge the mental health issues some may be experiencing.

"It's perfectly normal," he said, to be experiencing anxiety right now, and Minnesota will be putting money to help people who are struggling.

"Today I'm announcing the IKEA US Community Foundation is donating 1.2 million dollars to the state of Minnesota," he said. Those funds will provide resources to student mental health programs. $3 million of Minnesota's CARES Act funding will also go toward mental health services.

Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan said that it is important for Minnesotans to focus on mental health now more than ever.

"We're in this together," she said. "Getting the help that you need is not shameful, it's not embarrassing, it's human and it's necessary. Being able to lean on one another and ask for additional support is how we will sustain ourselves and get to the other side of this pandemic."

Jody Nelson, executive director of Change Inc., said that she and other mental health providers made the change to telehealth when the pandemic began. Change Inc. has tried to find new ways to deliver services, such as through socially distanced "walk-and-talk" sessions.

"This additional funding allows us to continue to be innovative in our outreach," she said.

Walz added that Minnesota is still working to provide more funding to other industries, including the hospitality industry. 

"We can't wait on Washington," he said. "I'm doing all we can, I'm putting the best minds together to see what we can do. It won't be enough, but we need to do something in the short-term here to provide a bit of a lifeline to these folks. The closing of these businesses is in the public good, but all of us share a responsibility to try and help out."

He also explained that in response to a list of requests from Hospitality Minnesota for how to best support the industry, he feels there is close to unanimity around the urgency of those needs. Walz said he will do all he can, and hopes that a bill can be moved through the Minnesota Legislature to support them, but reiterated the need for the federal government to take action. 

11 a.m.

New numbers released Friday by the Minnesota Department of Health show deaths and new cases of COVID-19 remain high across the state, though both categories dipped slightly from Thursday's record numbers. 

The 68 deaths reported in the past 24 hours is the second-highest daily total since the pandemic started, four less than Thursday's 72, and Friday marks the third consecutive day that deaths are at 67 or above. 

In total, 3,150 Minnesotans have lost their lives to coronavirus. Of those deaths 2,159, or 68% of them, are tied to assisted living or long-term care settings. 

MDH says 6,812 new COVID cases were reported, based on the results from 58,622 tests (54,228 PCR tests, 4,396 Antigen tests) processed in private and state labs. State health officials say positive PCR tests are confirmed cases, while positive Antigen tests are considered probable cases. 

The new cases bring the statewide total to 256,700. Of those cases 3,984 are attributed to Antigen tests (considered probable).

Credit: KARE

Hospitalizations have climbed to 14,462 since the pandemic hit Minnesota, with 3,387 of those patients requiring care in the ICU.

Recoveries in the state have hit a new milestone, with more than 200,000 people who once tested positive for the virus no longer needing to be isolated. 

Young adults continue to be a major concern for state health officials. Those age 20 to 24 make up the largest group of coronavirus cases, with 28,953 and two deaths, followed by people 25 to 29 with 24,081 cases and three fatalities. The 30 to 34 demographic accounts for 21,892 cases and nine deaths. 

The largest grouping of deaths from the virus involves people 85 to 89, with 579 fatalities in just 3,187 confirmed cases. 

Hennepin County has the most COVID activity in the state with 55,721 cases and 1,075 deaths, followed by Ramsey County with 23,623 cases and 457 deaths, and Anoka County with 18,296 cases and 208 fatalities. 

Cook County in northeastern Minnesota has the least COVID activity, with just 54 cases and zero deaths, followed by Lake of the Woods County with 78 cases and one death. 

Thursday, Nov. 19

2 p.m.

Minnesota hospital executives are warning residents that they are running out of staff to care for COVID-19 patients.

Gov. Tim Walz held a news conference with hospital leaders and Minnesota health officials Thursday ahead of new restrictions going into effect Friday night.

"It pains me beyond belief to know with almost certainty" that every day will be a new record for COVID-19 deaths, Walz said. "That will be more of a norm than an anomaly."

Minnesota health officials reported 72 deaths Thursday, the new daily record, along with nearly 8,000 new cases.

Walz said he knows the decision to "pause" for a few weeks is hard.

"Your lives have been disrupted for the better part of eight months and you have another disruption," he said. "I see and hear you but I am convinced... that in the long run the lives we save and the disruption that happens now lead us to a better opportunity both from a health perspective and from an economic perspective."

Walz said the hope now is to hit the peak and come back down.

RELATED: Open, or closed? Your questions answered about Walz's COVID-19 restrictions

"These are the people that I'm listening to," Walz said of the hospital leaders who were scheduled to speak with him on Thursday. "Every health care system in Minnesota agrees with the moves that we are making."

Walz said they're trying to craft that "very narrow line" between keeping people safe and allowing Minnesotans to do what they need to do to be financially stable, and also to be emotionally and mentally healthy.

Penny Wheeler, CEO of Allina Health, said Allina is currently taking care of one in four hospitalized COVID-19 patients in the state. She thanked Walz and Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) Commissioner Jan Malcolm for the steps they are taking "to try to help us."

"There is nothing worse as a care provider than to think that you can't adequately care for someone in front of you who needs your services, and we're getting to that point," Wheeler said.

She said that because community spread is happening so rapidly, Allina has 800 people out of work due to COVID-19. The Mayo Clinic also reported 900 staff members out this week.

"We need you to take care for us," she said. "If I could get down on my knees and you could still see me above the podium I would do so. We need your help terribly."

Wheeler reminded Minnesotans that there are promising vaccines on the horizon and health experts know more about COVID-19 than ever before.

"It's not forever," she said. "We just need a bridge so that we don't become overwhelmed and unable to take care of the community."

Wheeler said they are getting "perilously close" to that point.

Cindy Smith, co-CEO at Carris Health based in Willmar, said rural Minnesota hospitals are on the verge.

"We're caring for a rapidly increasing number of COVID patients in our communities," she said. "With forecasted projections and without action we'll be in crisis all too soon."

Smith said the Willmar facility is serving as a southern hub, keeping COVID patients away from the CentraCare St. Cloud Hospital so that patients with other medical crises can be taken care of in St. Cloud.

"We've found ourselves in dire straits," she said.

Smith said that they're having to delay surgeries or provide alternative sites, difficult decisions for doctors to make. They are also opening a COVID-only hospital in Sauk Centre.

She said "stuff, space and staff" are the primary concerns when it comes to caring for COVID-19 patients.

The testing supplies, ventilators and PPE they needed in the beginning are pretty well supplied, she said, and space is not an issue. Staff is the problem.

In rural Minnesota, Smith said her system had 1,200 people out recently, either with COVID, on quarantine, or taking care of ill family members.

"We don't have anybody to replace those people," she said. "We could have piles of PPE and hundreds of beds and none of that matters if we don't have the people to care for our patients."

Beyond that, Smith said, her staff members are exhausted. And there is no one to call for backup.

Smith said it's "heartbreaking" for hospital staff to finish a shift, go to the store and see people without masks on.

"Don't call health care workers heroes if you can't put a piece of cloth or paper over your mouth to protect them."

Smith asked Minnesotans to wear a mask, social distance and stay home.

"We're begging you," Smith finished. "Help us help you."

Dr. Carolyn McClain also spoke at the news conference to offer a perspective on being an emergency physician at this time.

"This has been one of the hardest times in my life," she said. "I've worked in Haiti after the earthquake, and you could go home. And this is my home and I'm watching people die. And that is hard, and it's been going on for a long time."

She said with staffing shortages they have to do more shifts, and because people are isolated and hospitalized alone, they take their work home with them more than before.

"You feel like you have to love them a little bit more because they don't have their family with them," she said.

McClain described having to tell a patient in his 90s that he had COVID-19.

He said to her, "Dr. McClain, I don't think I've been this scared since I fought in Korea."

Walz said the health care workers are not there to support him - he's there to support them. He urged Minnesotans to direct any anger at him - and then to follow health precautions not for him, but for them.

"Don't do them because I asked you, don't do them because I made an executive order," he said. "They are telling you an authentic, lived experience that is playing out across this state and across this nation. And we do have the power to do something about it. We are not helpless here."

Allina CEO Penny Wheeler responded to a question about people who insist on having friends over for Thanksgiving, despite the governor's order.

She said she knows it's hard to not be able to celebrate Thanksgiving with loved ones.

"We all know that," she said. "We don't get to either."

But Wheeler said of the hospital workers she represents, "They're gonna be watching people die that day. And they don't want to watch you die at Christmas. So please don't. Just this year, please don't."

When asked how soon they will run out of staff, Cindy Smith with Carris Health told reporters, "I don't know." She said she still has people tell her, "I don't believe you. You're a liar. It's a hoax."

Commissioner Malcolm said that with the volume of new cases Minnesota is seeing, MDH is looking at adjusting its contact tracing strategy.

"It's really hard to even find hotspots in the middle of a raging forest fire," she said.

Gov. Walz said he, Malcolm and other state leaders share Minnesotans' stress.

"It's OK to not be OK," Walz said.

He acknowledged that Malcolm has lost her spouse and her mother since the COVID-19 pandemic began. He shared a story about MDH staff saying the names of each person who has died from COVID-19 every day, to make sure the numbers remain human.

"All of us know what it's like to lose a loved one," he said. "These emotions are raw for the families of 3,000 Minnesotans."

Walz said he will go to his grave not understanding the division around COVID-19, but said it is not too late to change the narrative.

"It is not too late to turn this around," he said.

   

11 a.m.

Minnesota continues to push the COVID-19 curve upward, with state health officials reporting a new single-day high in deaths Thursday. 

Numbers released by the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) reflect 72 more deaths from the virus, up five from the previous high of 67 reported just one day earlier. That brings Minnesota's total fatalities to 3,082 since the start of the pandemic.

MDH reports 7,877 new cases of coronavirus, second only to the 8,703 cases reported last Saturday. Those new cases are based on the results of 56,820 tests processed in private and state labs. Of those tests, 1,733 are antigen tests where a positive result indicates a probable case. The remainder, 55,087, are PCR tests, which indicate a confirmed case.

Minnesota has now recorded 249,906 total cases.

Credit: KARE

Earlier, Gov. Tim Walz reported death and case numbers to the Minnesota Executive Council that were a bit higher than those released by MDH Thursday. Walz told the council that health officials would report 76 deaths, and at least 8,000 cases of COVID-19.

Total hospitalizations are now at 14,171 since the pandemic arrived in Minnesota, with 3,346 of those patients requiring care in the ICU. Currently 1,751 hospital beds across the state are being used by COVID patients, with 367 of those beds located in the ICU. Both of those numbers are single-day records.

Health officials say 198,365 people who at one time tested positive for the virus have recovered to the point they no longer require isolation. 

Young adults ages 20 to 24 make up the largest portion of Minnesota's COVID-19 cases with 28,387 and two deaths, followed by 25 to 29-year-olds with 23,552 cases and three deaths. Those 85 to 89 account for the largest grouping of deaths with 563 in 3,116 cases. 

Hennepin County has the most COVID activity in the state with 54,662 cases and 1,066 deaths, followed by nearby Ramsey County with 23,071 cases and 450 fatalities. Anoka County reports 17,859 cases and 203 coronavirus deaths.

Cook County has the least COVID activity with 50 cases and zero fatalities, followed by Lake of the Woods County with 78 cases and one death.

Full distance learning is now recommended across nearly the entire state of Minnesota, based on updated data released Thursday by the Minnesota Department of Health. The latest Safe Learning Plan guidance shows full distance learning recommended in 83 of Minnesota's 87 counties.

The latest guidance is based on county-level case data per 10,000 people for the two-week period from Oct. 25 through Nov. 7. Many counties reported more than 100 cases per 10,000 people over that time period.

Only Cook, Koochiching, Lake of the Woods and Watonwan counties have slightly lower case rates and fall into a lower category, where state guidance recommends hybrid learning for elementary schools and distance learning in secondary schools.

State officials have emphasized that this case data alone does not automatically determine the learning plan for a particular county or school district, but is meant to be used as guidance in each district's decision-making process.

According to the state's Safe Learning Plan, the county case data leads to five recommended learning models:

  • 0-9 cases per 10,000: In-person learning for all students
  • 10-19 cases per 10,000: In-person learning for elementary students, hybrid learning for secondary students
  • 20-29 cases per 10,000: Hybrid learning for all students
  • 30-49 cases per 10,000: Hybrid learning for elementary students, distance learning for secondary students
  • 50 or more cases per 10,000: Distance learning for all students

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.