The Minnesota Department of Health announced 10 newly confirmed COVID-19 deaths and 1,184 infections on Friday, and issued testing and quarantine guidance for anyone in direct contact with President Donald Trump during his campaign stop in the state.
The state has now tallied 2,059 COVID-19 deaths and 101,366 infections with the novel coronavirus that causes the respiratory disease.
Large group events such as parties, weddings and funerals have been particular sources of viral spread, and health officials on Friday said they will be conducting usual contact tracing investigations to identify any transmission that occurred among Minnesotans during the president’s stops in the Twin Cities and Duluth.
“There is a potential risk that transmission occurred at the Duluth rally and other events associated with President Trump’s visit,” said a written statement from Health Department spokesman Michael Schommer. “Community transmission of COVID-19 was high in St. Louis County before this week’s rally, and people attending the rally may have been infectious without realizing it.”
The state Health Department advised anyone who came in direct contact with the president, or others on his staff who also tested positive for COVID-19, to seek testing and quarantine themselves for 14 days. The statement noted that people at risk for exposure should complete the entire quarantine, even if they have negative test results, because the infection can emerge later on.
The state for the first time on Friday also reported specific COVID-19 outbreaks in schools in which five or more students or staff members were in the buildings while infectious in a recent two-week period.
Fairmont Jr./Sr. High School, Martin Luther High School and St. Paul Lutheran School all were listed with such outbreaks in Martin County, where health officials have been trying to assess the spread of the virus from a church and funeral event.
Also listed were Brainerd Senior High School, Albert Lea Senior High School, Isanti Middle School and Hinckley Elementary School.
County COVID-19 data released Thursday showed a worsening picture in terms of recommendations for schools to offer in-person classes.
Counties with high enough infection rates to discourage any in-person classes increased from one last week to four now. The number of counties in which all in-person classes are recommended due to low infection rates dropped from 24 to 11.
The latest state health figures also show a rising trend in hospital admissions for COVID-19 — with 358 admissions to hospitals in the seven-day period ending Tuesday. Seventy-four patients were admitted to intensive care in that time frame due to breathing problems or other complications from their infections.
The state’s overall intensive care capacity has remained stable this week, though, with less than 90% of beds full. The state’s pandemic response dashboard showed 1,060 of 1,222 ICU beds filled by patients with COVID-19 or other unrelated medical or surgical issues. Another 936 ICU beds remain in reserve and could be readied within 72 hours.
State health officials said the increase in hospitalizations and deaths reflects the increasing spread of COVID-19 from teenagers and young adults in the summer to older adults at greater risk for severe COVID-19 illness.
The 10 deaths reported Friday included one person in the 60s age range and nine other people 75 or older. More than nine in 10 COVID-19 deaths in Minnesota have involved people who are 70 or older, or who have underlying health problems such as diabetes or heart disease.
In addition to offering advice to participants of the president’s campaign events, the Health Department urged people to be on the lookout for symptoms after attending large group gatherings — especially when there was limited social distancing and mask-wearing. The state Health Department is not part of any contact tracing of non-Minnesotans.
“Our department does not get involved in the contact tracing for President Trump and his staff, or for others who are not Minnesota residents,” Schommer said in the written statement. “Our focus is on contact tracing and case investigations for Minnesota residents.”