Minnesota’s new COVID-19 case numbers seem to be stuck at high levels, prompting concern by state health officials.
On Friday, state Department of Health officials reported that 1,099 new cases have been confirmed across the state, reflecting an ongoing high rate of transmission, said Kris Ehresmann, the state’s infectious disease director.
“We have been walking on the edge of a cliff for weeks,” she said. Although the state hasn’t fallen off the edge, it is in a precarious position, she explained.
Since the start of September, the number of new cases reported each day has fluctuated from a low of a few hundred to more than 1,000 on Sept. 3.
What’s concerning to state health officials is that the overall numbers have stayed high for weeks. They suspect that social gatherings over Labor Day and the start of school may have contributed to those numbers.
Relief might not be in sight.
“Given the increased interaction with schools and colleges in session, weather driving more people indoors and the disregard for public health guidance, I think we can expect to continue to see high case numbers like these,” Ehresmann said.
Four months ago, Minnesota had tallied 11,405 confirmed COVID-19 cases since the count began in March. It jumped to 46,201 cases in July and hit 87,807 cases on Friday.
“It is very concerning,” Ehresmann said.
In Winona County, a double-digit spike Friday in newly confirmed cases seemed startling. But it was due to a delay in reporting, health officials said.
Most of the 101 Winona County cases reported on Friday dated back more than a week, and dozens date back to summer months.
Winona County, however, could see an increase in new cases in the coming days following two days of free COVID-19 testing earlier this week, said Melanie Tatge, public health supervisor in the county’s Health and Human Services Department. That would be normal, she said.
Since August, most of the new cases in the county have come from those in the age group 16 to 24. It’s unclear how many in those groups are college students, Tatge said.
Since Aug. 24, Winona State University has reported 294 confirmed COVID-19 cases. In its most recent update, the university says it has 125 active cases, including 46 that were confirmed Sept. 7-13. The number of new cases is down from the previous week, when 121 cases were reported.
Since the pandemic began earlier this year, 1,950 people have died in Minnesota from the viral disease, including eight deaths reported on Friday. Six of the new deaths were residents in long-term care or assisted-living facilities.
For many, COVID-19 causes mild or moderate sickness. Some people show no symptoms.
People most at risk from the disease include those 65 and older, residents of long-term care facilities and those with underlying medical conditions.
Health problems that increase COVID-19 risks range from lung disease and serious heart conditions to 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.
According to the Health Department’s latest report, 250 COVID-19 patients are hospitalized, including 136 who require intensive care.
Among the known infections, 80,221 people have recovered to the point they are no longer considered infectious.