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Latest on COVID-19 in MN: Cases spike over the weekend

Apr 13, 2020 05:50AM ● By Editor
An uplifting message is taped to the window of a home in St. Paul on Saturday.  Photo: Christine T. Nguyen | MPR News

From Minnesota Public Radio News - April 13, 2020

The Minnesota Department of Health reported 194 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday — the largest single-day increase yet — and six new deaths as the coronavirus spread to its 70th county in the state. 

However, officials caution the virus is much more widespread than that, with case numbers potential higher than 150,000, as the state moves into another workweek of stay-at-home orders. 

The latest coronavirus statistics: 

  • 1,621 cases via 37,421 tests

  • 70 deaths

  • 361 cases requiring hospitalization

  • 157 remain in the hospital; 74 in ICUs

  • 36 percent of cases in people 20-44 years old

  • 842 patients recovered

While the increase reported Sunday could be caused partially by the Health Department releasing some data a day earlier than usual, it's still the largest single-day hike in cases with the early data removed. 

The coronavirus continues its spread into rural parts of Minnesota. Red Lake, Todd and Rock counties reported their first confirmed coronavirus cases Sunday; cases have now been confirmed in 70 of Minnesota’s 87 counties.

Of the six deaths reported Sunday, three were people in the 90s from Hennepin County; one was a Hennepin County resident in their 70s; one was a Washington County resident in their 50s; and one was a St. Louis County resident in their 80s.

State officials said 13 percent of the confirmed cases were health care workers; 21 percent of cases were linked to congregate care settings — either staff members or residents. The state reports more than 50 congregate care facilities with more than 10 beds in Minnesota have reported at least one case of coronavirus among residents, staff or contractors.

Developments from around the state

Two police officers wearing masks and gloves
Two Brooklyn Park police officers stand outside a home during a welfare check on Monday.
Photo: Chris Juhn for MPR News

Walz signs order allowing addresses of confirmed COVID-19 cases to be shared with first responders

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz on Friday signed an executive order directing the state Department of Health to develop a protocol for sharing information about confirmed COVID-19 cases with first responders.

Walz's order allows for the addresses where a COVID-19 case has been identified — and only where a patient is still contagious — to be disclosed to 911 dispatchers and first responders. Names of affected individuals and other identifying information will not be provided to local officials.

Walz wrote in his order that first responders need to assume everyone they meet could be a coronavirus carrier — but the order allows for more protection.

"This decision is not taken lightly," Walz wrote in the order. "We must ensure that this health information is disclosed only to those who have an emergent need to know it, and we must implement safeguards to ensure that no one abuses this data. Minnesota has a strong tradition of protecting the private data of its citizens. This is reflected in the penalties imposed for unlawful use of private data provided by the (Minnesota Government Data Practices Act), which will continue to apply to the data shared under this Executive Order."

The order mandates that "the shared data must remain confidential, be encrypted in transit, (and be) provided only to the minimum number of people necessary." 

Congressman Pete Stauber of Minnesota's 8th District, a retired police officer, was among those who had backed such an order. 

"As we continue to wage war against COVID-19, it is only right that the law enforcement officers, first responders, and firefighters on the front lines of this fight have all the information they need to protect and prepare themselves," he said in a news release.

— MPR News staff

Minnesota DNR closes Grand Portage State Park

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has temporarily closed Grand Portage State Park in far northeastern Minnesota.

That's at the request of the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, amid concerns about the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. The park is located on the Grand Portage Reservation.

The closure is in effect until at least May 4.

Meanwhile much of Fort Snelling State Park in the Twin Cities is closed due to flooding along the Minnesota and Mississippi rivers.

Other state parks remain open for day use, but state park campgrounds, lodging and visitor centers are closed because of COVID-19.

— MPR News staff

Top headlines

Smithfield Foods announces indefinite closure of Sioux Falls plant amid COVID-19 outbreak: Smithfield Foods announced Sunday that its massive pork processing plant in Sioux Falls, S.D., will close indefinitely amid a coronavirus outbreak. As of Saturday, more than 230 employees had tested positive for COVID-19, out of a workforce of about 3,700 people — part of a growing coronavirus hotspot in Sioux Falls.

Hospitals cut pay, furlough workers to ease COVID-19 financial blow: Across the state, hospitals are making cost-cutting measures to shoulder the blow of a temporary ban on elective surgeries and procedures. Together, hospitals are predicting a $3 billion loss over the next three months. The state’s largest private employer Mayo Clinic is instituting across the board pay cuts and furloughs to shoulder a projected $3 billion loss this year.

Minneapolis officials say too many are ignoring posted virus signs: City officials may get tougher on people who ignore social distancing rules. However, Minneapolis police are not eager to issue fines.

Grocery stores step up safety measures amid COVID-19 outbreak: Minnesota grocers have deployed plastic screens between customers and cashiers, equipped employees with gloves, hand sanitizer and face masks, marked floors to show customers where to stand, and limited how many shoppers can be in a store.

COVID-19 in Minnesota

Health officials for weeks have been increasingly raising the alarm over the spread of the novel coronavirus in the United States. The disease is transmitted through respiratory droplets, coughs and sneezes, similar to the way the flu can spread.

Government and medical leaders are urging people to wash their hands frequently and well, refrain from touching their faces, cover their coughs, disinfect surfaces and avoid large crowds, all in an effort to curb the virus’ rapid spread.

The state of Minnesota has temporarily closed schools, while administrators work to determine next steps, and is requiring a temporary closure of all in-person dining at restaurants, bars and coffee shops, as well as theaters, gyms, yoga studios and other spaces in which people congregate in close proximity.

To read the original article and see related COVID-19 reporting, follow this link to the MPR News website.

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