Minnesota added 699 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 to its statewide tally on Sunday, and 22 new deaths, just a day before the state’s stay-at-home order is set to expire and new rules go into effect allowing more businesses to reopen.
Since March 5, state officials and hospitals have tested more than 150,000 people for the presence of COVID-19, and diagnosed 15,668 cases of the novel viral illness. Most of those patients have since returned to health. As of Sunday’s tally, 9,571 people with confirmed cases of the illness no longer need to remain in isolation.
Nationally, the U.S. has seen 1.4 million cases of COVID-19 and more than 83,000 deaths. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported about 23,000 new cases across the nation on Sunday, which was about the same as the average number of cases added per day for the past week. The national seven-day moving average of new cases has not dropped below 24,000 since April 2.
But Reuters reported that only 14 states appear to be following the recommendations from the CDC to wait until daily statewide case counts decline for 14 days before easing social-distancing restrictions.
Minnesota is not one. Instead, the state is allowing its statewide stay-at-home order to expire on Monday and allowing many stores to resume business Monday if they have plans for social distancing and can operate at half of their pre-COVID capacity. Bars, salons and other services businesses may resume operations beginning June 1.
“Starting May 18, Minnesotans are welcome to gather with friends and family in groups of 10 or less with safe social distancing practices in place,” the state’s “Stay Safe MN” web page says. Minnesota has not yet reopened places of worship.
Although health officials warn that reopening public life will lead to some increased transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19, Gov. Tim Walz is urging Minnesotans not to get complacent with important pandemic-hygiene steps, like social distancing, frequent hand washing and covering sneezes.
New confirmed cases were down 11% in the past week nationwide, but Reuters reported that hot spots remain active, including a sharp rise in confirmed cases in Kentucky after widespread testing revealed an outbreak in a prison. Minnesota had the second-highest increase in new cases in early May according to the Reuters analysis, as work to expand testing in the state revealed new cases.
COVID-19 is thought to lead to only mild symptoms in at least 80% of cases, but as many as 5% of people who get it will need critical care that could potentially include mechanical ventilation and prolonged hospital stays.
Advanced age and living in a group home are risk factors for developing more severe illness. Nineteen of Sunday’s 22 newly reported fatalities happened in people who lived in long-term care or assisted living facilities. All 22 were between the ages of 50 and 99.
Pre-existing health conditions are also a major factor in the death rate.
In Minnesota, at least 519 of the people who have died had one of seven chronic health conditions, state officials said. So far, only eight people have been confirmed to lack any of those conditions, while full data are not available for the other 195 people who died from COVID-19. Minnesota has seen 722 deaths from the virus.
The conditions tracked by the health department are: chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma; serious heart conditions; compromised immune systems from cancer treatment, smoking, bone marrow or organ transplantation and other factors; severe obesity (BMI of 40 or higher); diabetes; chronic kidney disease undergoing dialysis; and liver disease.