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Live Updates: MDH reports 2,356 positive COVID-19 cases, 134 deaths

Here are the latest developments on the fight to stop the spread of COVID-19 in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Sunday, April 19

1:45 p.m.

Wisconsin's Department of Health Services says COVID-19 deaths in the state are now at 220, up from 211 on Saturday.

Cases of COVID-19 have risen to 4,346 which is up from 4,199 on the previous day.

Officials say 1,190 patients have been hospitalized.

12:00 p.m.

The Minnesota Department of Health provided more details about the state's response to the coronavirus pandemic in the state. Officials said they will not be holding a daily conference call on Sunday.

Health officials said they've confirmed 143 COVID-19 additional cases, for a new total of 2,356 cases in the state.

According to a news release, these are the counties of residence for the new cases: Hennepin (52), Nobles (23), Ramsey (4), Olmsted (17), Clay (7), Winona (4), Dakota (3), Freeborn (3), Anoka (8), Carlton (2), Crow Wing (2), Norman (2), Rice (2), Scott (2), Wright (2), Dodge (1), Douglas (1), Marshall (1), Morrison (1), Polk (1), Sherburne (1), Mower (1), Otter Tail (1), St. Louis (2), Washington (2), Wilkin (1).

A total of 574 patients with COVID-19 have been hospitalized in Minnesota to date. Currently, 228 cases are hospitalized, with 116 in intensive care.

Officials say there have been another 13 coronavirus deaths, for a new total of 134 in Minnesota. 

According to the news release, these are the ages and counties of residence for the victims:

  • Dakota County resident in their 60s
  • Five (5) Hennepin County residents in their 90s
  • Hennepin County resident in their 80s
  • Mille Lacs County resident in their 60s
  • Olmsted County resident in their 60s
  • St. Louis County resident in their 70s
  • Washington County resident in their 80s
  • Winona County resident in their 80s
  • Winona County resident in their 100s

11:00 a.m.

Officials with the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) announced Sunday that the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Minnesota has risen to 2,356. Also, 13 more people have died, bringing the death total to 134.

Officials say 574 cases have required hospitalization, which is up from 561 on Saturday. Also, 228 people remain in the hospital, which is down from 239 on the previous day. Offciails say 116 patients are in ICUs, which is up from 111 on Saturday.

Health officials say 1,160 patients have recovered to the point of no longer needing to be in isolation, which is up from 1,118 on the previous day.

Saturday, April 18

1:30 p.m.

Wisconsin's Department of Health Services is reporting deaths in that state related to COVID-19 now stand at 211, up six from the 205 reported Friday. Cases of COVID-19 have risen to 4,199, up 154 from the 4,045 positive tests reported yesterday. Of those deaths, 122 have occurred in Milwaukee County. 

Wisconsin health officials say a total of 1,176 people have been hospitalized with complications from the coronavirus since the start of the pandemic, 28% of all those who have tested positive.

A further break down of case information can be found on the Wisconsin Department of Health's website

11 a.m.

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) has identified 143 new coronavirus cases in the state, and 10 additional deaths. The total number of cases is 2,213 as of Saturday, which is up from 2,070 on Friday, while 121 people have died of complications from the virus.

MDH says 561 of those cases in total have required hospitalization, and 239 are still hospitalized. There are 111 patients who remain in intensive care. There are 1,118 patients of the total who no longer need to be isolated.

Approximately 9,981 of tests have been done by the MDH Public Health Lab. And approximately 34,387 have been done by external laboratories.

Hennepin County has the most cases at 875, followed by Ramsey County with 192, and Olmsted County with 177.

Friday, April 17

7:30 p.m.

Governor Tim Walz signs the bill allowing takeout sales of beer and wine from bars and restaurants during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The bill got overwhelming bipartisan support in both the House and Senate. 

"This is a small but important step to provide relief for the local restaurants that are struggling to keep their lights on during this pandemic," said Governor Walz in a news release. "This will allow Minnesotans to continue to support their favorite local businesses. The restaurant industry is finding creative ways to keep Minnesotans fed and happy during this challenging time, and we're going to help them out." 

Minnesota restaurants and bars will be able to sell a six-pack of beer, cider or hard seltzer or a bottle of wine with food orders. According to the news release, "municipalities will be allowed to opt out of the change."

It will go into effect at 12:01am on Saturday, April 18. 

2 p.m.

Gov. Tim Walz began his daily briefing by addressing the total number of confirmed cases climbing to more than 2,000 statewide and more than 100 total deaths. 

According to Walz, the 159 new cases is the highest single-day increase of confirmed cases, but he says officials are continuing to seek trends involved with new cases.

Walz also announced a statewide homemade mask drive on Saturday, April 25 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. People can drop off their homemade masks at their local fire stations. Walz emphasized that they are not N95 masks, so they won't protect from COVID-19, but they will protect from getting others sick.

"We're going to use that as a way to get them out to folks who need them," Walz said. "I know this is happening on its own, we're hearing that people could use more of these. I’m encouraging people when we’re outside to wear masks."

Walz also addressed mental health issues connected with the isolation and job loss. He said that mental health professionals are available and encourages anyone who may need assistance to reach out to those professionals. More information is available on the MDH website

Walz announced that there have been confirmed cases at the JBS Pork Processing facility in Worthington. The plant is less than 100 miles from the Smithfield Foods plant in Sioux Falls, S.D, where hundreds of positive cases were confirmed this week. Walz said there are family members that work in both plants. MDH Commissioner Jan Malcolm said that there have been at least 30 confirmed cases in the Worthington area, and seven have been connected to the JBS plant, but they expect that number to rise. Originally, a union representative reported that the number of cases were higher but later agreed that the number is at seven.

Walz said they have put a team there to set up testing and ensure safe conditions, not just at the plant, but across the community.

The plant, which employs around 2,000 people, is still running but they have implemented many changes to ensure safe working conditions, according to Walz.

RELATED: Union: 19 cases of COVID-19 at Worthington pork plant

In a tweet earlier Friday, President Donald Trump tweeted out "LIBERATE MINNESOTA!" Walz said he tried reaching out to President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence regarding the context of the tweet, but has not received a response.

"My first responsibility is the protection of Minnesota's people," Walz said. "I think we did see yesterday the president unveiled a three-step plan that mirrored exactly what we're trying to do. He also said governors would be at the forefront. I don't have time to figure out why something like that would happen, I just have to from Minnesota's perspective."

Earlier Friday, Walz signed an executive order allowing the reopening of some outdoor recreation businesses, including golf courses and shooting ranges. While participating in these activities, people must continue to abide by social distancing guidelines, including maintaining 6-foot social distancing, avoiding crowded areas and staying close to home for outdoor recreation. 

RELATED: Walz allows some outdoor recreation businesses to reopen

“It’s important for us to stay active and enjoy the outdoors while preventing the spread of COVID-19,” said Governor Walz. “This measure will allow Minnesotans to take advantage of more opportunities to get outside, while still doing their part to keep their neighbors healthy.”

Under the order, facilities that may reopen (or remain open) include:

  • Public and private parks and trails
  • Golf courses and driving ranges
  • Bait shops for live bait
  • Outdoor shooting ranges and game farms
  • Boating and off-highway vehicle services, including Marina services, dock installation and other lake services, and boat and off-highway vehicle sales and repair (by appointment only) 

Campgrounds and dispersed camping, outdoor recreational equipment retail stores, recreational equipment rental, charter boats, launches, and guided fishing remain closed, based on Walz's continuing Stay at Home order, and an order he signed earlier closing bars, restaurants and non-essential businesses.

The changes will go into effect at 5 a.m. on Saturday, April 18.

11 a.m.

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) reported Friday that Minnesota has now crossed the threshold of 2,000 COVID-19 cases and 100 deaths.

A total of 2,071 people have tested positive for the coronavirus, an increase of 159 from numbers reported Thursday. Seventeen additional deaths were reported Friday, bringing the total from 94 to 111.

Of those who have tested positive for COVID-19 in the state, 1,066 no longer need to be isolated. As of Friday, 223 are hospitalized and 106 are in the ICU.

In total, 518 people have been hospitalized since the outbreak began.

The median age of all cases is 54, and the median age of those who have died is 85.

Hennepin County has the most cases at 806, with 61 deaths. Ramsey county has reported 178 cases and nine deaths, and Olmsted County has had 174 cases and two deaths. Dakota is the only other county that has passed the 100-case mark, with 110 cases and five deaths.

The only new county to be added to the list of counties with a positive lab-confirmed case Friday was Aitkin County.

Thursday, April 16

2 p.m.

President Donald Trump said Thursday that governors will call their "own shots" on when to reopen their states' economies.

Meanwhile, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz has joined a coalition of seven Midwestern states that have pledged to use a "fact-based, data-driven approach" to opening back up.

A spokesperson for Walz clarified for KARE 11 that this does not necessarily mean those states' exact dates will align.

While Walz was tied up on his call with President Donald Trump and other U.S. governors, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) held its daily briefing to give reporters an update on the state's response to COVID-19.

MDH Commissioner Jan Malcolm responded to the news about the Midwest pact, saying it "underscores the fact that we know that this virus doesn't respect geopolitical borders very well."

Iowa, North Dakota and South Dakota are not included in the coalition, which consists of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana.

Malcolm said she does not know why those states are not included, but that Walz "is and will remain in frequent contact" with those three governors.

RELATED: Walz joins Midwestern governors pact

MDH Infectious Disease Director Kris Ehresmann said Minnesota is in a good place with its case investigation and contact tracing. They are looking at what they would need to do to scale that up if necessary, considering the governor's ambition to test more widely in Minnesota.

Earlier Thursday, the University of Minnesota announced that they are ready to test 10,000 people per day for both current COVID-19 infection and antibodies for the virus. They are requesting $20 million from the state legislature to fund the proposal.

These numbers would put Minnesota even further ahead of where Walz said testing capacity would need to be to begin reopening the economy.

RELATED: Live updates: Walz continues to 'lean into' COVID-19 testing for Minnesota

RELATED: U of M requests funding for 20,000 COVID-19 tests per day

MDH Commissioner Malcolm said she has not seen the details of the proposal, but that she knew that it was in the works. MDH is looking for the best statewide strategy, she said, to take advantage of the testing capacity of various health care providers.

"We need to focus on symptomatic folks, as you know we've had a priority list for some time that we've been unable to reach all the priority groups, so we welcome the rapid expansion of testing," Malcolm said.

Malcolm said she couldn't comment on the specifics of the U of M's financial request.

"There's the cost of creating the testing platform and then the cost of running the tests," she said. "There's a fairly complicated web of billing issues to work through about who's paying for tests. The health plans in Minnesota have agreed to waive patient co-payments for that, the federal government is saying they're gonna increase Medicare reimbursement rates for tests. So there are just a lot of moving parts and pieces here that I'm sure the legislature will want to think through as well in terms of funding requests."

Malcolm said in terms of who they're testing now, they're still working to satisfy the demand for current priority groups before they can expand those categories. Right now they're prioritizing health care workers, hospitalized patients, those in congregate care, first responders and some critical workers such as those in child care.

MDH continues to urge caution in assuming Minnesota is out of the woods when it comes to COVID-19.

"We are happy about the fact that we've got lower numbers of cases in Minnesota and lower numbers of deaths, though every one is a sadness," Malcolm said. But she added, "We don't know what might happen next."

Malcolm said they are keeping a close eye on whether the growth rate is increasing, and watching places that are at higher risk for becoming "hot spots."

"We don't want to assume that just because we've got a pretty measured rate of growth right now, that that's going to continue," she said.

RELATED: Stories reveal the impact and heartbreak of Minnesotans who have died from COVID-19

In light of Severe Weather Awareness Week, Malcolm said that they have decided to keep storm shelters open during the pandemic. They are still urging people who need to use them to practice social distancing, cough into their sleeve, and wear a cloth face mask if possible.

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 companies in Minnesota are hiring. 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. 

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