Confirmation of another 590 cases of COVID-19 in Minnesota on Friday halted a five-day run in which the state’s daily new case count had been declining.
The Minnesota Department of Health on Friday also reported 29 new deaths from COVID-19, a respiratory disease caused by a novel coronavirus, raising the death toll from the pandemic to 996. The 592 patients with COVID-19 admitted to hospitals as of Friday represented a decline from the previous day. Among those patients, 259 needed intensive care.
State health commissioner Jan Malcolm on Thursday said that social distancing efforts and a recent stay-at-home order slowed the growth of the pandemic in Minnesota, which is why its peak may still be yet to come while other states are already reporting declining case numbers.
Health officials are analyzing the recent daily case counts and whether they suggest any shift in the pandemic in Minnesota — especially considering that they declined amid rising diagnostic testing activity.
“We don’t know if this is sort of a mini-plateau,” Malcolm said on Thursday, before Friday’s higher case count came out. “We’re actually in conversations right now about trying to assess various datapoints” to understand that shift.
Results of another 8,665 diagnostic tests were reported by state health officials on Friday. That is the second-highest daily testing number reported. Malcolm said Minnesota remains on track to conduct 10,000 tests per day by month’s end, and 20,000 per day later in June.
Since the start of the pandemic, 23,531 Minnesotans have tested positive for COVID-19, including 2,603 people who work in health care. Among all cases, 16,930 recovered and are no longer required to isolate themselves to avoid spreading the virus.
Among the deaths, 811 involved people living in long-term care facilities.
Minnesota’s proportion of COVID-19 deaths involving long-term care residents is roughly 84% — which is high compared to the rest of the nation. Malcolm on Thursday said that could be due to variations in reporting, though.
Some states are only reporting deaths in long-term care facilities if they occur in federally designated skilled nursing homes, whereas Minnesota includes deaths in assisted living and other facility types in this count. Roughly 54% of COVID-19 deaths in Minnesota so far have been in skilled nursing homes only.
States also vary on classifying these deaths if the long-term care facility residents died elsewhere, Malcolm added. “If someone from a long term care facility dies in a hospital, that is not counted as a long-term care death (in some states). We do count it as a long-term care death.”