Minnesota is coming closer to meeting three of its five targets for effective management of the COVID-19 pandemic, with the state's rate of hospital admissions for the infectious disease dropping to its lowest level in two months.

An update Monday of the state's COVID-19 dashboard showed a rate of 4.8 new COVID-19 hospital admissions per 100,000 per week, down from a peak of 7.1 in mid-July.

The decline is reflected in the latest daily numbers on Monday from the Minnesota Department of Health, which listed 255 people admitted to hospitals for COVID-19, including 128 needing intensive care due to breathing problems or other complications from the infectious disease. That is a decline from a recent peak of 337 hospitalizations on Aug. 11, but a slight increase from a low of 233 last Monday.

The key question is whether continued high numbers of new infections with the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 will lead to a surge in hospitalizations and deaths in Minnesota. The state on Monday reported 937 new infections confirmed through diagnostic testing — a high number for a Monday, which usually reflects reduced testing activity over the weekend.

Testing clinics in COVID-19 hot spots across the state and on college campuses now that students have returned for classes helped fuel record numbers. The state reported 114,298 diagnostic tests over the past seven-day period.

The positivity rate of diagnostic testing has declined amid the increased activity over the last week. The state COVID-19 dashboard indicates a positivity rate of around 4%, compared to a peak of 6% less than a month ago.

While many new infections are being found among young adults, state health officials are concerned that they can easily spread the virus to others at greater risk of severe COVID-19 due to their age or underlying health conditions such as diabetes and heart disease.

Eight in 10 COVID-19 deaths in Minnesota have involved people 70 or older. The state has now reported a total of 1,969 COVID-19 deaths, including four deaths reported Monday. Three involved people 70 or older while the fourth involved a Mower County resident in the 60 to 64 age range.

The state also has reported a total 90,942 lab-confirmed infections, including 9,684 health care workers and 82,174 people who have recovered to the point they are no longer considered infectious or required to isolate themselves.

The state is currently meeting its target goals for the positivity rate of diagnostic testing and its weekly testing rate. It is falling short on the overall rate of new infections and the rate of infections coming from unknown community sources — which makes it harder for state contact tracers to identify others at risk for infection.

The state remains slightly above its target of no more than a rate of 4 hospitalizations per 100,000 people per week.

Jeremy Olson • 612-673-7744