The COVID-19 pandemic continues to intensify in Minnesota with the state reporting 35 new deaths and a record 8,703 new coronavirus cases, according to Minnesota Department of Health figures released Saturday morning.

The state's one-day case count came on a record volume of about 52,311 newly completed tests.

With the latest numbers, an average of about 14.9% of tests have been positive over the past week, according to the Star Tribune's coronavirus tracker.

The latest reading continues a recent trend of steady increases in the "positivity rate" for tests across the state — a worrisome sign, doctors say, for COVID-19 spread. It's also a sign, they say, that case increases are not simply a function of more testing.

Last Saturday, the seven-day average positivity rate was 12.6%. The reading was just 6.5% three weeks ago.

Since the pandemic arrived in Minnesota in March, the state's pandemic tallies include 216,028 positive cases, 12,915 hospitalizations and 2,874 deaths.

Residents of long-term care and assisted-living facilities accounted for 27 of the newly announced deaths, and 1,981 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

Numbers released Saturday show health care workers have accounted for 17,453 positive cases. More than 167,000 people who were infected no longer need to be isolated.

Minnesota does not update its dashboard for hospital capacity on weekends, but the Star Tribune tracker shows 271 new admissions reported Saturday — last week, the comparable figure was 201. Daily reports of new admissions typically include patients who have entered the hospital at some point over the last several days — not just on the most recent day.

COVID-19 is a viral respiratory illness caused by a new coronavirus that surfaced late last year. People at greatest risk include those 65 and older, residents of long-term care facilities and those with underlying medical conditions.

Those health problems range from lung disease and serious heart conditions to severe obesity and diabetes. People undergoing treatment for failing kidneys also run a greater risk, as do those with cancer and other conditions where treatments suppress immune systems.

Most patients with COVID-19 don't need to be hospitalized. Most illnesses involve mild or moderate symptoms; many cases are asymptomatic.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

Christopher Snowbeck • 612-673-4744