The average rate of newly diagnosed cases of COVID-19 in Minnesota continues to decline, as does the number of people getting intensive care for it, the latest data showed Sunday.
The Minnesota Department of Health added 388 people to its overall tally of confirmed COVID-19 cases, the second-lowest daily total since April 28.
The growth rate of new cases has been slowing for two weeks. Using rolling averages to smooth out daily fluctuations, the daily increase in confirmed case counts has been declining on both a 7-day and a 14-day basis since hitting a high-water mark of about 700 new cases on May 24.
Delays in the system for reporting new confirmed cases make it difficult to precisely track trends over the prior week, but state Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm acknowledged Friday that the growth rate of new cases may have “plateaued.”
Declines are also evident in another closely watched measure, which is the number of people getting regular and intensive levels of care in the hospital for COVID-19.
On Sunday, there were 199 people in hospital intensive-care units being treated for COVID-19, the lowest total since May 13. There were another 251 people in regular hospital beds on Sunday, the lowest since May 10.
Of the 1.9 million cases of COVID-19 that have been diagnosed nationally, 27,886 have been in Minnesota, including nearly 3,000 health care workers. About 23,000 Minnesotans have recovered from their symptoms and no longer need to remain in isolation, according to the Minnesota Department of Health.
Of the 16 new Minnesota fatalities reported Sunday, 14 of the people lived in long-term care, assisted living, or group homes for behavioral health. All of the new deaths except one in Hennepin County happened in people who were at least 60 years old.
The average rate of newly reported deaths has been relatively steady for weeks — the 7-day average has floated between 20 and 25 since May 20.
All told, 1,186 Minnesotans have died with confirmed cases of the illness. More than 90% of the people in Minnesota who have died from the illness were aged 60 or older, according to a Star Tribune analysis of the state data.
Although people of advanced age are more susceptible to having severe health effects of COVID-19, the illness does strike younger victims.
Early Sunday, Marny Xiong, chairwoman of the St. Paul school board, became one of the youngest victims of the disease in Minnesota. Xiong, 31, had been critically ill with COVID-19 for the past month and died at University of Minnesota Fairview Medical Center. Xiong was elected to the St. Paul school board three years ago and became its chairwoman this year.
Scientists don’t yet understand what causes some people have such severe health effects after acquiring the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
Around 80% of people who get the virus experience mild to no symptoms from it, while as many as 5% require critical care in a hospital. Common mild symptoms include fever, body ache, cough, fatigue, chills, and loss of smell, though some people have a high fever, severe coughing, or shortness of breath that may indicate pneumonia. Symptoms generally appear within 5 days of exposure, but can take up to 14.
Monday marks the 14th day since the death of George Floyd, a black Minneapolis resident who died after white Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for more than 8 minutes. Outrage stemming from Floyd’s death brought thousands of people to the streets of to protest and demonstrate, causing public-health officials to urge everyone who protested in Minnesota to get tested for COVID-19.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says emergency medical attention should be sought for people who have trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new onset of confusion, inability to wake or stay awake, or “bluish” lips or face.
In general, people at higher risk for severe cases include the elderly and people in group-living facilities, where social distancing and pandemic hygiene are difficult.
Underlying health factors also contribute to higher risks, including chronic lung disease, moderate to severe asthma, serious heart conditions, immunocompromise, obesity with a body mass index of at least 40, diabetes, liver disease, and chronic kidney disease requiring dialysis.