Susan M. Jack struggled through months of complications from a double-lung transplant in the hopes of meeting her newest granddaughter, whose birth is due Friday. But coronavirus disease dashed that hope.
Jack, 69, of Bloomington, died Tuesday at M Health Fairview University of Minnesota Medical Center, 10 days after testing positive for COVID-19. Jack became one of 29 people who have died in Minnesota in the past 15 days after getting the coronavirus.
“I never imagined that I would bury my mom and deliver my child within two days, which is what is happening this week,” said Jack’s daughter, Cassie Bonstrom, who is planning a Tuesday funeral. “My mom literally fought for the last nine months of this. … She fought so hard to see this baby.”
Minnesota officials on Sunday reported five new COVID-related deaths, tying the state’s record for the number of coronavirus deaths tallied in a single day.
“We can never forget that these numbers are in fact beloved family members, friends and neighbors who are mourned,” Minnesota Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said in a statement Sunday.
Minnesota health officials reported 70 new confirmed coronavirus cases, bringing the state’s total count to 935.
The latest numbers show the outbreak continues to intensify in Minnesota and across the nation, with state and federal officials issuing dire forecasts for the weeks ahead. The U.S. has 336,000 reported cases, with some of the most intense hot spots scattered along the West and East coasts.
Most people with coronavirus disease exhibit mild flu-like symptoms, like fever, fatigue and cough. More rarely, the disease can be serious or even fatal, particularly among older people and those with medical conditions like asthma, heart disease or a compromised immune system.
Many Minnesotans who have gotten the coronavirus have recovered. About 450 people, or just under half the state’s total number of confirmed cases, no longer need to be in isolation.
Despite the daily increases in case counts and deaths, Gov. Tim Walz has said that his executive orders on social distancing and staying at home appear to be working. One organization, the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, has lowered its expected COVID-19 death toll in Minnesota from 2,000 to 932.
“It is very important for all Minnesotans to do their part in that effort by following social-distancing guidelines and other public health recommendations,” Malcolm said.
On Sunday, the number of long-term care facilities with cases of COVID-19 remained at 32, according to the state’s daily coronavirus update. The tally includes facilities where at least 10 people live, and it includes senior-living, rehabilitation, long-term acute care centers and at least two addiction-treatment facilities.
Despite recent public focus on older Minnesotans in group-living situations, the case counts showed that the most common age group for Minnesotans confirmed with the coronavirus is not the elderly, but those between 20 and 44 years old.
As of Sunday, that age group included 380 cases, which was higher than the 315 cases seen in people ages 45 to 64, the next-most prevalent group. Medicare-age residents accounted for only 212 of the cases, while those 19 or younger made up 28.
However, older residents appear to be more likely to need intensive hospital care if they are exposed.
The median age of a Minnesotan with a confirmed coronavirus case was 49 on Sunday, but the median age of someone who was hospitalized or treated in the intensive care unit of a hospital was 63. The median age of people who have died from the illness was 86.
That increased susceptibility to the potentially devastating health effects of COVID-19 helps explain the growing focus on group-care settings amid the outbreak.
As of Sunday, 17 of the people who died were residents of one of 13 long-term care facilities, including four of the five new deaths reported.
Under mounting pressure, the state Department of Health on Saturday released the names of several dozen nursing homes and assisted-living facilities with confirmed cases of COVID-19. Eleven of the facilities are in Hennepin County, and the remainder are spread across the state, from St. Louis County to Winona County to Wilkin County.
Most of the facilities are senior-living centers, though there are also rehabilitation centers and long-term acute care facilities in the list. At least two of them are addiction-treatment centers — Minnesota Adult and Teen Challenge in Crow Wing County and Fountain Centers in Freeborn County.
Brainerd’s Minnesota Adult and Teen Challenge said it has temporarily stopped accepting new clients after a male resident in its short-term treatment program had a confirmed case of COVID-19. The client was sent to Essentia Health-St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Brainerd on March 28, and then released to a family member later that day to quarantine at home.
The nursing team and medical director at the drug and alcohol treatment center have been in “close contact” with state Health Department officials, and are following state and federal guidelines for handling a client with COVID-19, a statement from the facility said.
“In keeping with those protocols the organization is temporarily suspending new intakes at its Brainerd facility while continuing its existing isolation and quarantine practices,” the statement said.
Additionally, they are offering telemedicine services to both residential and nonresidential clients.