Hospitalizations for COVID-19 have returned to peak levels in Minnesota amid continued spread of the novel coronavirus that causes the infectious disease.
Minnesota’s COVID-19 dashboard on Monday showed a current rate of 10.5 new hospitalizations per week per 100,000 people, well above the target threshold of 4 and almost at the record level of 11 reported on May 21.
The updated dashboard also showed that 614 Minnesota hospital beds were filled with COVID-19 patients, including 149 who needed intensive care due to breathing problems or other complications from their infections. Minnesota hospitals still have intensive care capacity, though, with 1,028 of 1,467 immediately available ICU beds filled with patients who have COVID-19 or other unrelated medical problems.
The rise in hospitalizations comes amid increased diagnostic testing and discovery of Minnesotans who have been infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19. The Minnesota Department of Health on Monday reported 1,578 lab-confirmed infections and four COVID-19 deaths, bringing state totals in the pandemic to 135,732 known infections and 2,353 deaths.
Most of the infections are listed as confirmed through molecular diagnostic tests, but the total includes 379 listed as “probable” through antigen testing that is slightly less accurate.
New infections were reported on Monday in 83 of the state’s 87 counties, reflecting the widespread nature of the pandemic.
Minnesota’s positivity rate for diagnostic testing had been hovering at the 5% warning level for much of the fall, but has increased to nearly 7% in the last two weeks, according to the state’s COVID-19 dashboard. The rate of infections in communities that can’t be traced back to known exposures is now 37%, indicating that the virus is spreading beyond Minnesota’s ability to track and contain it.
Gov. Tim Walz was scheduled on Monday afternoon to discuss the current state of the pandemic in Minnesota and his recent conversation with Dr. Deborah Birx, a coordinator of the White House’s COVID-19 response team.
The latest available White House report on the pandemic shows that Minnesota has the nineteenth highest new infection rate, and that neighboring North Dakota and South Dakota have the nation’s highest rates. The federal report showed 12 mostly rural counties in Minnesota with a “red zone” classification for their high new infection rates.