Twenty-four more people have died from COVID-19 in Minnesota, state health officials reported Saturday, as the count for confirmed cases grew by more than 700 statewide for a fourth consecutive day.

The pandemic has caused a total of 558 deaths across the state thus far, according to data posted Saturday morning by the Minnesota Department of Health.

Residents of long-term care accounted for 16 of the 24 newly announced deaths, which is a lower share than usual.

Overall, deaths in long-term care residents have accounted for four of every five pandemic deaths in Minnesota. The state responded this week with a plan for expanding testing in facilities plus help for workers.

Numbers released Saturday show the confirmed case count of 10,790 grew from Friday’s tally of 10,088 cases. As of Saturday, health care workers account for 1,329 cases out of the statewide total.

A total of 476 people require hospitalization, compared with 473 on Friday, the Health Department said. There are 180 patients in the ICU, compared with 198 intensive care patients Friday.

COVID-19 is a viral respiratory illness caused by a new coronavirus that surfaced late last year. Since the first case was reported in Minnesota on March 6, a total of 1,612 people have been hospitalized, up from 1,549 on Friday.

People at greatest risk from COVID-19 include: those age 65 years and older; residents of long-term care facilities; and those with underlying medical conditions. The medical conditions range from lung disease, serious heart conditions and cancer to severe obesity, diabetes and kidney patients who need dialysis.

Most patients with COVID-19 don’t need to be hospitalized. The illness usually causes mild or moderate sickness, the Health Department says, and does not require a clinic visit.

Public health officials say the reported case count in Minnesota dramatically understates the number infected and sickened in the state. Limited testing has made it impossible to precisely document the spread, but the volume of tests has been increasing.

There are now 6,322 patients in the state who no longer need to be in isolation, up from 5,697 patients on Friday. The state is reporting no new counties with confirmed cases; overall 84 of Minnesota’s 87 counties have known cases.

The median age for all cases is 44, the median age for all those who have died is 83.

The approximate number of tests completed stands at 106,263, an increase of nearly 5,000 tests since Friday’s data release.

The Health Department added to its list of congregate care facilities publicly identified with at least one COVID-19 case among residents or staff, upping the total to 155 facilities. State officials are releasing names only for facilities with at least 10 residents.

White residents account for 34% of the state’s known cases and 65% of deaths. Black Minnesotans account for 17% of confirmed cases and 6% of deaths.

Race is unknown or missing for 33% of cases and 25% of deaths, according to the Health Department.

State officials say an expected surge of COVID-19 patients has been delayed in Minnesota by public adherence to rules for people to stay at home and keep their distance. With the delay, hospitals next week expect to start performing more elective surgeries that had been delayed to conserve supplies.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.


Twitter: @chrissnowbeck