Minnesota’s COVID-19 data once again offers a mixed bag of hopeful and relevant news. Wednesday’s health department number shows that daily deaths remain in single digits, with the number of people currently in hospital falling slightly after following trends for weeks.
The current hospital admissions (305) still remained above 300 for the sixth day in a row and ICU cases (152) remain compared to a month ago.
State Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm is expected to update reporters at 2 p.m.
While current hospital admissions remain much lower than their peak in May, they have shown an upward swing in recent weeks even as daily growth in new cases flattens out.
Of the 57,779 confirmed cases since the pandemic began, about 89 percent of those infected have recovered to the point where they no longer need to be isolated.
Among the 1,629 Minnesotans who have died, about 76 percent had lived in long-term care or nursing homes; almost everyone had underlying health problems.
Falls grow over age groups, north
There are still concerns about the growth of COVID-19 among younger Minnesotans, including the fact that those infected inadvertently spread the virus to grandparents and other more vulnerable people.
“Consider all the roles you play” in all daily interactions, warned Kris Ehresmann, the state’s head of infectious disease, last week. People who may not worry about themselves should worry about infecting vulnerable family members and colleagues, she added.
Minnesotans in their 20s now make up the age group with the most confirmed cases of the pandemic – almost 13,500.
The average age of infected Minnesotans has decreased in recent weeks and is now 36 years old.
The twin cities and their suburbs have regularly driven the recently reported cases.
The two-county metropolitan area with seven counties represents more than two-thirds of the new COVID-19 cases in Minnesota and has accounted for a disproportionate proportion of state cases since mid-May when southern Minnesota’s meat packs grew hot.
But the disease is found in all parts of the state, including the north, which had largely avoided the outbreak until recently.
Northern Minnesota now sees about the same number of new cases per capita as the hard-hit southern Minnesota.
Cases in Beltrami County, home to Bemidji, have more than doubled in the past two weeks, rising to 207 as of Wednesday. Most of the counties see hope for growth relative to their population in northern and central Minnesota.
Meatpacking operations had been hot spots for major outbreaks in southwest, west-central and central Minnesota earlier in the pandemic, but new cases have declined significantly in recent weeks.
The case is growing in recent weeks in Minnesota has caught the attention of the country’s foremost infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, who in a Monday interview with the Journal of the American Medical Association named Minnesota among a handful of states that should reconsider re-imposing certain restrictions given the trends.
Concerns over Sturgis
The latest figures come a day after state health officials warned the upcoming Sturgis motorcycle rally in South Dakota could be a potential petri dish to spread the virus here and across the country.
The nine-day event is expected to attract more than 250,000 riders and their friends from across the country to the Black Hills as of Friday, causing Minnesota health leaders to worry about the disease returning here.
“We are concerned about all major collections, continuous contact of that kind,” Malcolm told reporters Monday, calling the collection “a kind of recipe for something to happen.”
Asked if Minnesota might be urging Sturgis riders to return to the state to voluntarily quarantine, Malcolm said that while cases are expected to bubble up here in late August and early September, officials here have not yet discussed a quarantine request.
Riders who go to Sturgis should limit their social activity when they return and “be very careful” about their jobs or social interactions but keep them in touch with vulnerable people, Ehresmann added.
The length of the rally from Friday to August 16 will mean long-term exposure for many, and long-distance travel for many riders allows them to carry the virus home and touch other outbreaks, Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, MPR News reported Monday.
Sturgis will also include some high-risk factors, including a sharp increase in hundreds of thousands of people – many of them older – packing into a relatively small town, he added.
“Come mid-August to late August, early September,” said Osterholm, “Sturgis will have a hell of an impression on this country.”
Developments from the whole state
MN State Fair launches marketplace, competitions online
The Minnesota State Fair is adding virtual brands to the food parade it has planned instead of a real fair this year. The fair announced on Tuesday that it is launching an online market with more than 200 suppliers.
The usual selection of gifts, gadgets, crafts, decor, tools and clothes are all listed on the fair’s website, with links to the websites of traditional trade fair suppliers. They plan discounts and sales until the end of 2020.
The fair also announced four online competitions, including cake decorating, crop art and photography of K-12 students. Quilting also has a competition, but quilts must not be larger than 8 inches and 9 inches and mounted on a paint bar.
The fair also holds its annual art fair at the fairgrounds, beginning on September 7. But unfortunately there is still no fair – it has been canceled this year due to coronavirus.
– Tim Nelson | MPR News
Valleyfair is closed for 2020
Valleyfair will remain closed for the rest of the year in the midst of ongoing concerns over COVID-19.
“With the declining number of calendar days remaining during the 2020 operating season, as well as limited visibility from government and local officials for when a park opening is possible, the decision has been made to remain closed,” Shakopee, Minn., The amusement park said in a statement Tuesday.
Park officials said they will continue to work with government agencies to ensure guests can return safely next season.
– MPR News Staff
During COVID-19, a growing interest in recycling food waste at home grew: With interest in growing organic product recycling programs, the pandemic has highlighted Minnesota’s need for more composting sites to handle food waste.
The court challenges Minnesota’s worm mandate: A trial reported Tuesday in federal court challenges the constitutionality of Minnesota’s worm mandate. A group of Republican lawmakers and voters, including the Minnesota Voters Alliance watchdog group, are suing Gov. Tim Walz, Attorney General Keith Ellison and other officials. They want the mask requirement to end before next week’s primary election.
Minnesota high school football, volleyball seasons driven to spring: The Minnesota State High School League on Tuesday supported a plan to move high school football and volleyball to spring seasons this year while other fall sports maintain modified schedules in response to COVID-19.
Primary elections in the middle of the pandemic will come in November: Voters in Minnesota will complete November’s voting in the August 11 primary election. The first nationwide election among the pandemics will look different from what voters are used to, and election officials are preaching patience.
COVID-19 in Minnesota
The data in these charts are based on cumulative total departments of the Minnesota Department of Health that are released at 11 a.m. daily. You can find more detailed statistics about COVID-19 at The health department’s website.
The coronavirus is transmitted through respiratory drops, coughing and sneezing, similar to how the flu can spread.