Diagnostic testing is revealing steady growth in infections with the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, with the 650 infections reported on Monday bringing Minnesota's seven-day average to roughly 671 reported cases per day.
The latest daily case count by the Minnesota Department of Health brought the total infections to 51,803. The state also reported two deaths, bringing that total to 1,576 in the pandemic.
State health officials are watching closely for the monthlong increase in COVID-19 cases to result in more hospitalizations and deaths — a pattern that has happened in Southern and Western states.
So far, hospitalizations have increased only slightly from a low this month of 231 on July 10 to 257 on Monday. The hospitalization total on Monday included 126 people with COVID-19 in intensive care, though, the highest such number since July 5. That ICU number had been trending downward for much of July amid improved airway management and other care techniques for patients with COVID-19, along with new drug therapies.
Some of Minnesota's COVID-19 case growth has been a function of increased testing and an identification of asymptomatic infections that wouldn't have been detected earlier in the pandemic when testing supplies were limited. The state's latest rate of 187 tests per 10,000 people is well above its goal of 100.
However, the state also has seen an increase to 5% in the positivity rate of those tests, suggesting that the spread of the virus is broadening.
The daily number of deaths reported has remained in the single digits every day since July 2 — with Monday's reported deaths including two residents of long-term care or assisted-living facilities.
While 77% of the state's COVID-19 deaths have involved residents of those facilities, that disparity has leveled off this summer. Deaths have been almost as likely to involve people living in their own homes as they have long-term care facilities for much of July.
The seven-day average case count of 671 is based on daily cases reported by the COVID Tracking Project, which is the source the state of New York uses to determine whether to issue travel restrictions on other states. Minnesota is likely to yo-yo back on that travel restriction list when it is announced Tuesday, after having been removed from it a week ago.