The COVID-19 pandemic has claimed another 89 lives, state health officials reported Thursday, with 3,523 more Minnesotans testing positive for the virus.
Though new case numbers have moderated from high levels in November, reports of new deaths have continued to be high, with an average of 59 deaths reported each day since Thanksgiving, including 82 on Wednesday.
While coronavirus fatalities typically affect those over the age of 60, seven of the people whose deaths were reported Thursday were below 60, including two in their 20s.
Long-term care residents accounted for 56 of the deaths.
Since the pandemic was first detected in the state in March, 4,198 residents have died and 367,218 have tested positive, according to the Minnesota Department of Health.
The COVID-19 case surge that started in late October has put pressure on the state's hospitals. Hospitals typically run at high-capacity levels, and most beds are occupied by patients who don't have the coronavirus.
There are 352 COVID-19 patients in intensive care beds, a number that has been dropping since Dec. 1 when 402 ICU beds were filled by COVID-19 patients.
Another 767 ICU beds are filled by patients who don't have the coronavirus, and altogether 92% of all ICU beds are occupied. In the Twin Cities metro area, 39 ICU beds, or about 6% of total capacity, were empty according to a state capacity dashboard.
HealthPartners said Thursday that 96% of ICU beds at its hospitals, including Regions in St. Paul and Methodist in St. Louis Park, were occupied.
While most COVID-19 patients need hospital-level care because of serious complications, HealthPartners said it has found the coronavirus in some patients that were seeking care for other reasons.
HealthPartners found COVID-19 in about 600 hospitalized patients, around 2% of those tested, who didn't have symptoms of the virus.
A total of 41,499 test results were reported to the Health Department on Wednesday, a one-day increase of 5%.
Most who become seriously ill from the coronavirus have underlying health conditions, including diabetes, hypertension, kidney disease or heart conditions.
Many who become infected have mild symptoms, or even no symptoms, and recover on their own. Since the pandemic began, 324,304 people are considered to be no longer infectious.
Glenn Howatt • 612-673-7192