Seven more people in Minnesota have died of COVID-19, a return to single digits following concerns about spikes in the virus related to college-bound students.

The Minnesota Department of Health reported 698 new cases of coronavirus Thursday, pushing the total number of cases in the state to 67,308 since March.

All told, 1,745 Minnesotans have died of COVID-19, with 1,298 occurring in assisted-living or long-term care facilities.

Of all the cases tracked by health officials, 7,479 were health care workers. Of the 67,308 confirmed cases, 28,090 were white, 13,792 were Black, 12,286 were Hispanic, 3,982 were Asian, 536 were American Indian/Alaskan, 112 were Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander and the remaining 8,510 people are listed in the categories of multiple races, unknown or other.

COVID-19 is a viral respiratory illness caused by a new coronavirus that was discovered circulating late last year.

Since the first case was reported in Minnesota in early March, hospital stays have been required in 6,019 cases. On Thursday, 309 were hospitalized, with 148 of those patients in intensive-care units.

People 65 and older, residents of long-term care facilities and those with underlying medical conditions are at the greatest risk to come down with COVID-19.

Health problems that increase COVID-19 risks 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 sickness; studies suggest that up to 45% of those who are infected won't have symptoms.

No vaccines exist to prevent COVID-19, although several are in clinical trials.