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Live updates: State, federal officials concerned about COVID-19 spread in Minnesota

The latest on COVID-19 deaths, case counts and back to school developments in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

ST PAUL, Minn. — Monday, Aug. 31

  • State health officials say the federal government is worried about COVID-19 spread in Minnesota "specifically"
  • Social gatherings like weddings, funerals; college return fueling case clusters across the state
  • MDH reports one COVID-19 death in past day, lowest since April 13
  • Bus companies share back-to-school plans for keeping kids safe from coronavirus

2 p.m.

Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) Commissioner Jan Malcolm said health officials are seeing COVID-19 cases increase at a "faster rate" around the state, and the federal government is worried.

"We’ve had a significant increase in cases and the positivity rate," Malcolm said Monday on a regular briefing call with reporters. "We see outbreaks occurring in many places all over the state."

Minnesota health officials reported 1,032 new cases on Saturday, the highest single-day total in the state since the pandemic began, aside from an artificially high case count on Thursday due to a backlog of testing data. The Sunday count was 934, also one of the highest days yet.

Malcolm said Dr. Deborah Birx, from the White House Coronavirus Task Force, told health officials on her weekend visit to Minnesota that she sees a "really concerning high level of community transmission" in the state.

"It was frankly important, I think, to hear that reaffirmed from the federal level and for her to share with us their view and their perspective," Malcolm said. "We've been saying for some weeks now that while we're glad that Minnesota's COVID-19 case numbers haven't skyrocketed ... at the same time, we haven't seen a decrease, either."

Malcolm said Minnesota has seen a plateau at a high level, and "now we're starting to inch back up again. We have not improved."

That was Birx and the federal government's main concern, Malcolm said. They are worried that the Twin Cities metro is one of the only urban areas that has not decreased in recent days.

"They were sobering conversations," Malcolm said.

She said MDH told Birx and her team that the state needs "strong messaging" from the federal government.

"Their message back to us, though, is while that conversation continues, we at the state level need to do everything that we can with the data that we have and the tools that we have."

Malcolm said social distancing, mask wearing and avoiding crowds are key - and while some Minnesotans are following these guidelines, others are experiencing "fatigue."

"To be frank, we have too many people who are not aware and compliant," she said. 

Malcolm said Minnesota could begin to mirror states like Arizona and Florida if something doesn't change.

MDH Infectious Disease Director Kris Ehresmann said the outbreaks across the state are connected to large social gatherings, including parties, weddings and funerals. She also cited students going back to college as a source of clusters, although most of those cases have occurred off-campus.

Forty-nine Minnesotans have now tested positive for COVID-19 after attending the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota.

Ehresmann emphasized that every person's decisions matter when it comes to containing COVID-19 spread.

"A single case can mean that multiple people are having to quarantine for several days," Ehresmann said. "One person can unwittingly infect dozens of others at a large event. Some of those people could then go on to infect dozens of additional people."

MDH has previously said that that plateau in cases lined up with the timing of Minnesota's statewide mask mandate just over a month ago.

Malcolm maintained Monday that she believes the mandate helped to slow the spread at that time. But she said the outbreaks happening now reinforce that the mask mandate appears to be "not being adhered to as well at some of our private gatherings" and that many people are not paying attention to social distancing at those gatherings.

"This is not a surprise to us that we're seeing a bit of an uptick," she said.

Malcolm said that Birx suggested hotspots in the south are now "seeding growth" in the Midwest as people who were traveling for vacations come home.

Ehresmann said that although outdoor events are lower risk for transmission, that doesn't mean the risk is zero.

11 a.m.

Numbers shared Monday by the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) reflect just one COVID-19 death in the most recent 24-hour reporting period, the lowest since zero deaths were recorded April 13. 

The death toll in Minnesota now stands at 1,817 since the virus arrived in the state. 

MDH reports 679 new COVID-19 cases, a number that is nearly 200 lower than the cases reported Friday and more than 300 lower than Saturday's case numbers. State health officials did caution late last week that a backlog of testing data from one Minnesota lab may cause numbers to appear artificially high for a few days. 

Currently 306 people are being treated for COVID-19 in hospitals across the state, with 131 of them in ICU. MDH says 67,656 people who at one time tested positive for the virus have recovered to the point they no longer require isolation. 

Those between the ages of 20 and 24 make up the largest number of coronavirus cases in the state with 10,040 and one death, followed by people between 25 and 29 who account for 7,644 cases and three deaths. Minnesota residents between 30 and 34 are not far behind with 7,086 cases and seven deaths.

People from ages 85 to 89 make up just 1,075 of the cases but 306 of Minnesota's COVID-19 deaths. 

Hennepin County reports the most cases of state counties with 23,134 and 879 deaths, followed by Ramsey County with 9,203 cases and 298 deaths. Cook County has the lowest number of reported cases with six. 

Sunday, Aug. 30

2 p.m.

The Wisconsin's Department of Health Services reported 537 new cases Sunday, as the total number of confirmed cases rose to 75,337. 

Health officials also announced three new deaths Sunday, raising the total number of fatalities statewide to 1,122. 

Wisconsin health officials say a total of 5,804 people have been hospitalized from the coronavirus since the start of the pandemic, 7.7% 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 14% are 50 to 59. An estimated 10% are between 10 and 19, and 9% are between 60 and 69.

As of Saturday, Milwaukee County reported the largest number of cases with 24,040 and 489 deaths. Waukesha County reports 5,565 cases and 74 deaths, while Dane County has registered 5,426 cases and 40 deaths.

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

11:15 a.m.

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) announced Sunday that the number of positive coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in Minnesota has increased by 934 bringing the cumulative total to 75,189.

Two more people also died, bringing the death total to 1,816.

Health officials say 1,338 deaths have taken place in long-term care or assisted living facilities.

Of the two new deaths, one occurred at a private residence and one in long-term care or assisted living facilities.

MDH also said Sunday that the total number of tests taken is at 1,478,432.

RELATED: Keeping kids safe from COVID-19 on the school bus

Minnesota hospitals are currently treating 315 patients for COVID-19, with 136 of them dealing with symptoms serious enough to require care in the ICU.

MDH reports that 66,916 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 20-24 account for the most cases with 9,923 cases and one death, and those ages 25-29 follow with 7,586 cases and three deaths. Those between 85 and 89 years old account for the highest number of fatalities in one age group at 306, out of 1,070
confirmed cases.

In terms of likely exposure to the coronavirus, MDH says 19,132 cases were the result of community transmission with no known contact with an infected person, and 16,944 had known contact with a person who has a confirmed case.

A total of 10,075 cases involved exposure in a congregate living setting, 832 were in a corrections setting, and 270 were in a homeless shelter. MDH data shows. 7,071 were linked to an outbreak outside of congregate living or health care.

MDH says 6,046 cases were linked to travel. Health care workers or patients account for 2,617 of diagnosed COVID-19 cases.

Hennepin County has the most cases in the state at 22,984 with 879 deaths, followed by Ramsey County with 9,132 cases and 298 deaths. Dakota County reports 5,867 cases and 110 deaths.

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.

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