More than 70,000 Minnesotans have tested positive for COVID-19 after 717 new cases were announced Monday by state health officials.

A total of 70,298 confirmed cases of the disease caused by the new coronavirus have been detected in the state since the pandemic took hold here in mid-March.

Because of a shortage of tests, particularly in the beginning stages of the pandemic, it is unclear how many caught the disease but were never tested.

Another four have died from complications caused by COVID-19, bringing the total number of fatalities to 1,771. Three of the deaths were residents of long-term care facilities. About 74% of all COVID-19 deaths in the state have been nursing home or assisted-living residents.

The new case counts comes as public health officials in several states are monitoring COVID-19 infections that appear to be linked to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally held earlier this month in South Dakota.

More than 450,000 people were estimated to have attended the 10-day event in a state that does not require face coverings.

Minnesota health officials announced over the weekend that 22 Minnesota cases were linked to the event, including one who was hospitalized.

"We know that there were many more people from Minnesota who attended the event and expect to see additional cases," said Kris Ehresmann, the state Health Department's infectious disease director.

The Sturgis rally is believed to be the largest gathering since the pandemic began.

While health officials are concerned about clusters of cases because they hold the potential for accelerating the spread of the disease as the virus gets passed on to others outside of the cluster.

Clusters have been identified from bars, restaurants, recreational activities and family gatherings.

About 10% of all known cases have stemmed from these outbreaks. With K-12 and higher education classes on the horizon, Minnesota health officials have been encouraging students to follow infection control guidelines to prevent more outbreaks.

While younger adults and children typically do not need hospital care, they can pass the disease on to others who might be more susceptible to complications from the disease.

People with underlying health conditions, such as heart, lung and kidney disease are most likely to require hospitalization.

A total of 310 people were hospitalized for COVID-19, a one-day net increase of nine. Intensive care units held 135 patients.

Testing labs reported 12,296 diagnostic tests were completed, which was a decrease of 4,438 tests. Testing numbers typically decrease on a Sunday.

An estimated 63,059 people who have tested positive are no longer considered to be at risk for passing on the disease and do not need to be isolated.

Glenn Howatt • 612-673-7192