The confirmed COVID-19 Minnesota case count increased to 576, with 73 new infections reported Monday and one additional death.
A 71-year-old resident of a long-term care facility in Hennepin County is the state’s 10th death from the global pandemic.
Altogether, eight residents of Minnesota nursing homes or assisted-living facilities have succumbed to the new coronavirus.
COVID-19 has now spread to 31 long-term care facilities — up from 25 on Sunday — with 27 residents and 19 health care workers testing positive.
Public health officials said they are taking special precautions once a case in long-term care is discovered because of the medical vulnerability of the residents due to age and underlying health problems.
Hospitals are also seeing a greater influx of COVID-19 patients, including more who need intensive care for severe symptoms. In advanced cases, the disease attacks the lungs to the point that patients need mechanical help breathing.
Since Sunday, 17 more people were hospitalized for a total of 56 patients occupying hospital beds.
Eight of the new patients required intensive care, bringing the total statewide to 24.
Minnesota still has the hospital capacity to handle more cases. There are about 248 ICU beds and over 2,600 total hospital beds available, according to the Minnesota Health Department, although there might be regional differences.
Slightly more than half of the state’s 2,225 ventilators, which help patients breathe, are not in use. But demand for them is expected to grow and it is one of the items that the state has been trying to purchase.
Gov. Tim Walz said finding protective equipment, including masks, gloves, face shields and gowns, continues to be a challenge but he added that the state is getting more help from the federal government.
About 10 days ago the state was anticipating a supply shipment that did not turn out to be what was expected.
“It was a tiny box of 650 pairs of gloves,” he said. “Two days later the warehouse got filled up pretty well.”
The state is continuing to seek supplies in the private market.
“This is not a small task,” said Administration Commissioner Alice Roberts-Davis. “Minnesota is in competition with 49 other states and many other countries.”
The task takes on greater urgency as hospital beds begin to fill up and concerns mount about protecting health care workers and patients.
Nearly 30% of all confirmed infections have been in health care workers. Although most of those 157 cases involved travel to infected areas or infection from a close contact, at least two workers became ill after exposure to a patient. Some cases involved worker-to-worker spread, according to Kris Ehresmann, infectious disease director at the state Department of Health.
Minnesota put out a call for donations of protective gear. The public can drop off items at Salvation Army locations in Roseville, Duluth, Moorhead and Rochester, according to Joe Kelly, state director of emergency management.
Kelly added that the search continues for temporary hospital beds that will be used to care for non-COVID-19 patients. The initial goal is to create 2,750 new beds, with 1,000 in the metro area.
Five sites have been reviewed and three, which can house 500 beds, were deemed acceptable. The former private prison in Appleton was one of the sites examined, but Kelly said it was still being evaluated.
About 18,800 people in Minnesota have been tested for COVID-19 and state officials said they are up to date on processing the samples.
“We have no backlog in the lab testing,” said Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm.
The state lab continues to prioritize testing of hospital patients, health care workers and long-term care residents.
A total of 260 people who had tested positive have now recovered to the point that they are no longer subject to isolation.
Minnesota has now had three days of a stay-at-home order issued by Gov. Tim Walz. Although Minnesotans can still leave home to get food, medicine, supplies, as well as fresh air, people are asked to stay indoors as much as possible.
People who are employed in essential industries can still travel to work, but they are encouraged to work from home whenever possible.
The order is designed to limit the spread of the disease from person to person and prevent a surge of new infections that might overwhelm the health care system.
“As the weather improves we are all itching to get outside, but please remember that it is important to maintain social distancing even outside,” said Malcolm.
Staff writer Matt DeLong contributed to this report.