Seventeen more deaths due to COVID-19 were reported Tuesday by the Minnesota Department of Health — tying the highest one-day death toll for the state in this pandemic.

The count included 15 people from Hennepin County, mostly residents of long-term care facilities that have been described by health officials as “tinderboxes” for the spread of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. All of the victims reported Tuesday were older than 60 and most were older than 80.

The daily COVID-19 update by the Minnesota Department of Health on Tuesday included 97 new lab-confirmed infections, bringing the state’s total to 2,567. The total includes 237 people currently hospitalized, including 117 people in intensive care due to severe respiratory symptoms and breathing problems.

The state’s case count has doubled in 12 days, a key metric that state health officials are watching in terms of the spread of the highly infectious coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

Some feared that cases would be doubling by now every day or so, but the current statewide stay-at-home order appears to be having an impact. State officials estimated that it would reduce face-to-face contact and disease transmission by 80%. The order is scheduled to end May 4.

Even with only steady growth, the number of new cases reported on Tuesday alone exceeds the total number of cases that had been reported exactly one month ago on March 19. All but nine Minnesota counties have now reported cases, with the statewide spread being reflected in the recent voluntary shutdown of the JBS pork plant in Worthington due to illness levels among its workers.

The total case count in Worthington and surrounding Nobles County is now 101. At a press briefing on Monday, state health officials said they had conducted a preliminary epidemiology review of 41 cases in that county and found that 33 involved JBS workers and six involved their relatives.

“You can see the concentration there related to the plant, which is why it’s so very important that we understand and get in there and understand more clearly what’s going on,” state Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm.


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