Six COVID-19 deaths were reported by Minnesota health authorities on Monday along with 567 newly lab-confirmed infections with the novel coronavirus that causes the infectious disease.

The additions bring Minnesota's totals in the pandemic to 1,712 deaths and 65,716 infections, including 58,859 people who recovered and were released from state isolation requirements. The Minnesota Department of Health also reported that 286 people were hospitalized on Monday due to COVID-19, and that 155 needed intensive care due to breathing problems or other complications.

Total hospitalizations dropped below 300 for the first time this month on Sunday.

The daily infection number is below the average of more than 600 cases reported each day over the last two weeks. Numbers reported on Monday have been lower throughout the pandemic, reflecting reduced testing and diagnostic activities on weekends.

Long-term trends show a leveling off in infections and hospitalizations in August, though, after increases in late June and throughout July. More infections occurred following the June 10 limited reopening of indoor bars, restaurants, fitness clubs and entertainment venues and the July 4th weekend that caused a sharp increase in travel and group activities.

Gov. Tim Walz responded with a statewide indoor mask-wearing mandate that took effect July 25 and with a school reopening plan for the fall that advises different levels of in-person and online learning depending on virus levels in individual counties.

Monday's case count reflects the varying spread of the virus in Minnesota. Another 11 infections were confirmed on Monday in McLeod County, which is showing the fastest case growth in the state at the moment. Health officials attributed the outbreak in that county of 35,000 people to infections among workers in a food processing plant in Glencoe, Minn.

An outbreak in a Worthington, Minn., food plant earlier this spring had caused Nobles County to have one of the nation's highest per capita rates of confirmed coronavirus infections. There have been 1,799 cases confirmed in that county of roughly 21,000 people, but only seven on Monday.

The six COVID-19 deaths reported in Minnesota Monday all involved people 60 and older. Five lived in private residences while one lived in a long-term care or assisted-living facility. Three-fourths of COVID-19 deaths in Minnesota have occurred in residents of such facilities.

Jeremy Olson • 612-673-7744