The Minnesota Department of Health reported 143 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Minnesota on Sunday, and 13 new deaths, as attention moved to clusters of cases like the one that caused dozens of residents to be moved out of a Wayzata senior living facility.
Minnesota now has 2,356 cases of COVID-19 that have been confirmed by testing since early March, including 1,160 people who no longer need to stay in isolation. In all, 134 people in Minnesota have died after getting COVID-19, and Sunday's total marked the second-highest number of deaths reported in a single day.
In one potentially encouraging sign, the number of people currently in the hospital with COVID-19 symptoms actually declined by 11, to 228 — the largest decline in currently hospitalized cases since the start of the outbreak in Minnesota.
While the number of people in hospital intensive-care beds increased by 5 to 116, the number in regular hospital beds declined to 112. That meant there were more people in hospital ICU beds for COVID-19 than in regular hospital beds as of the data-cutoff time at 4 p.m. the prior day.
The addition of 143 new confirmed cases was in line with tallies from the past several days, but public health officials say the actual number of cases of COVID-19 in the state is likely much higher than those totals reflect. It's not yet possible to do enough tests to reach a statistically valid estimate for the population.
Nationally, the number of tests needed to identify COVID-19 cases accurately and safely reopen the economy needs to triple by mid-May, from 146,000 tests done per day across the country to at least 500,000 a day, researchers at Harvard University have said.
In Minnesota, the state completed 1,348 COVID-19 tests in the past day, bringing the total number of tests performed statewide to about 45,700. The state's public health lab completed just over 10,000 of those tests, with the remainder done at health care providers like Mayo Clinic. The state is notified of all positive test results.
In Minnesota, 76 of the state's 87 counties now have at least one confirmed case of COVID-19.
White residents accounted for 63% of the lab-confirmed cases in the state, and 75% of the deaths. The state Health Department said black residents made up 12% of the confirmed cases, and 4% of the deaths. Cases can have more than one race, and about 19% of deaths lacked any racial information.
About 80% of people who get COVID-19 have mild to no symptoms, while around 5% may require critical care in the hospital. The median age of someone hospitalized for COVID-19 in Minnesota is 64, while the median age of people who have died is 85.
In and around the state, cases and deaths from COVID-19 are appearing in clusters, especially in long-term congregate living homes such as senior centers.
On Saturday the company that runs Meridian Manor senior living facility in Wayzata confirmed that 18 of the center's 55 residents has tested positive for COVID-19, and one resident passed away on Friday after suffering complications from the illness.
The state Health Department's emergency COVID task force told the company to move all residents not affected by COVID-19 to other providers, while those with the virus that causes the illness were treated in hospitals. The company characterized the actions as "extreme precautions to protect residents and staff from the possibility of exposure."
"Meridian Manor is fully cooperating with MDH and the team is humbled by the support of neighboring providers that are graciously taking in our residents during this difficult time. Interlude, Pres Homes, and Ebenezer are all working with Meridian to serve and protect our residents," a statement from Meridian Manor said.
In Duluth, the St. Ann's Residence assisted-living facility recently saw a wave of COVID-19 cases that left 5 dead and 20 other ill, after the first case was diagnosed at the facility on April 3. Even now, no one knows how the first virus made its way into the facility.
All told, about 70% of the deaths from COVID-19 in Minnesota have been in people who lived in long-term care facilities.
As of Sunday, the state listed 85 congregate-living facilities with at least 10 residents that had at least one confirmed exposure to COVID-19. That was an increase of three from the day before. COVID-19 exposures on the list include employees, residents, and visiting doctors, though state officials say the list is cumulative and centers on the list may not have any ongoing transmission.