The Minnesota Department of Health reported an increase of 5,908 new confirmed coronavirus infections on Sunday, another single-day high in the state.

Thirty-one more people have died of COVID-19 in Minnesota, according to a data release on Sunday morning.

That brings the total number of cases confirmed in Minnesota to 180,862. Statewide, the pandemic's toll reached 2,656 deaths.

Residents of long-term care and assisted-living facilities accounted for 19 of the newly announced deaths.

Numbers released Sunday show health care workers have accounted for 16,037 cases statewide.

COVID-19 is a viral respiratory illness caused by a new coronavirus that surfaced late last year. Since the first case was reported in Minnesota in early March, 11,527 people have been hospitalized.

"The numbers are troubling," said Jaime Slaughter-Acey, an epidemiologist with the University of Minnesota's School of Public Health. She said while the state's fatality rates are going down it's important that communities continue to take COVID-19 seriously as winter comes and not give in to burnout or become lax with mask wearing and social distancing.

She also said that now is the time for Minnesota to double down on how public health messaging can better reach people between the ages of 18 to 30 and look at how other states are mitigating the spread of COVID-19 and closing the gaps on the disproportionate number of Black people dying from the illness. But she said it'll be important to watch how the pandemic will shape other chronic health issues like obesity, diabetes and heart disease

"COVID-19 does really change the landscape a lot not just in terms of those who develop COVID-19 symptoms and those who died from COVID-19 but it may change individuals' trajectory with respect to future health conditions later in life," Slaughter-Acey said.

Gov. Tim Walz is expected to renew the peacetime pandemic state of emergency this week, triggering a sixth special session of the Minnesota Legislature. Republicans have pushed unsuccessfully to end the DFL governor's use of executive powers in past sessions. No other major legislative proposals related to the pandemic were announced as of late last week.

People at greatest risk from COVID-19 include those 65 and older, residents of long-term care facilities and those with underlying medical conditions.

Those health problems range from lung disease and serious heart conditions to severe obesity and diabetes. People undergoing treatment for failing kidneys also run a greater risk, as do those with cancer and other conditions where treatments suppress immune systems.

Most patients with COVID-19 don't need to be hospitalized. The illness usually causes mild or moderate symptoms; many cases are asymptomatic.

Confirmed cases have been reported in all of the state's 87 counties.

Torey Van Oot contributed to this story.

Marissa Evans • 612-673-4280