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Latest on COVID-19 in MN: Deaths, ICU cases slow; two more MN cities mandate masks

Jul 07, 2020 05:59AM ● By Editor
Ninet Alarcon take a picture of her 18-year-old son Arturo Chavarria on May 14 at Tartan High School in Oakdale, Minn.  Photo: Christine T. Nguyen | MPR News file


From Minnesota Public Radio News - July 7, 2020

Rochester and Mankato became the latest Minnesota cities to impose citywide mask mandates to help curb the spread of the coronavirus. The city councils respectively approved ordinances Monday evening to require people to wear a mask in public spaces like retail businesses and indoor eateries. 

Rochester’s mandate takes effect on Wednesday; Mankato’s on Friday. 

As for a statewide mask mandate, medical groups in Minnesota and the state Health Department said they are backing the measure and Gov. Tim Walz last week said he is also concerned enough about a potential outbreak that he’s considering a statewide mask order.

Minneapolis, St. Paul and Edina, along with Rochester and Mankato, have mandated mask-wearing in the cities’ public spaces, and several more are considering a similar measure. 

The news about the mask mandates came as state health officials reported three more deaths from COVID-19, continuing a two-week trend of days with deaths mostly in single digits. Monday’s death count brings the total number to 1,474.

Intensive care cases (125) also remained relatively flat at late-April levels even as overall current hospitalizations (258) rose from Sunday. Testing dropped significantly over the holiday weekend — with about 5,600 tests done between Saturday and Sunday. Most days, testing surpasses 10,000.

Here are the latest coronavirus statistics in Minnesota:

  • 38,569 cases confirmed via 679,693 tests

  • 1,474 deaths 

  • 4,219 cases requiring hospitalization

  • 258 people remain hospitalized; 125 in intensive care

  • 33,907 patients no longer needing isolation

Minnesota ICU beds used for COVID-19 patients

As state opens, younger people catch virus

Minnesotans in their 20s now make up the largest age group of confirmed cases — more than 8,300 since the pandemic began. The median age for cases has been dipping and is now just under 39 years old, health officials reported Monday. 

Young adults heading back into public indoor spaces have become a particular concern for state officials who continue to implore people to wear masks, socially distance and take other precautions when venturing outside home. 

Health investigators last week probed new clusters of Minnesota cases focused around bars in Mankato and Minneapolis. 

While young people with COVID-19 may not feel its worst effects, “this is an infectious disease, and they can spread it to people who may not do as well,” Dr. Ruth Lynfield, the state epidemiologist, told reporters Monday.

Of the 38,569 confirmed since the pandemic began, about 88 percent of people infected have recovered to the point they no longer need to be isolated. Among those who’ve died, nearly 80 percent were living in long-term care or assisted living facilities, nearly all had underlying health problems.

Current COVID-19 hospitalizations in Minnesota

Meatpacking hot spots remain

Many of the outbreaks outside the Twin Cities metro area are focused around meatpacking plants. Officials have intensified testing in those hot spots, uncovering more infections.

That includes Mower County in southeastern Minnesota, where there were 952 confirmed cases as of Monday.

Mower County is home to Hormel Foods and Quality Pork Processors. Both have been partnering with Mayo Clinic to ramp up employee testing. 

While some of Mower County’s positive cases are associated with people who work in the facilities and with the people they live with, county officials say they are also seeing transmission among people who live in the county but work in other counties where coronavirus is present.

Nobles, in southwestern Minnesota, reported 1,669 confirmed cases Monday with six deaths. About 1 in 13 people now have tested positive for COVID-19 in the county since the pandemic began, although the count of new cases has slowed considerably in recent weeks.

Worthington’s massive JBS pork processing plant was the epicenter of the Nobles outbreak. The JBS plant shut on April 20 but has since reopened with expanded hygiene and health monitoring measures.

Similar problems have been reported in Stearns County, where COVID-19 cases tied to two packing plants — Pilgrim’s Pride poultry plant in Cold Spring and Jennie-O Turkey in Melrose — skyrocketed in May. An undisclosed number of workers at both plants have tested positive for the virus. There were about 55 confirmed cases in Stearns County in early May. By Monday, confirmed cases were at 2,371 with 19 deaths.

Kandiyohi County in west-central Minnesota is also dealing with a significant caseload more than two months after officials with the Jennie-O turkey processing plant there said some employees had tested positive for the coronavirus. As of Monday, the Health Department reported 573 people have now tested positive in the county, the same as Sunday. The county had confirmed three COVID-19 cases in late April.

Cases have also climbed noticeably in Lyon County (316 cases), around a turkey processor in Marshall. Cases the past few weeks have also grown in Cottonwood County (136 cases), home to a pork processing plant in Windom, but the counts there have stabilized.


Top headlines

Rochester, Mankato to require masks indoors in fight against COVID-19: The southern Minnesota cities of Rochester and Mankato approved new mandates Monday that will require people to wear face masks indoors out in public, in an effort to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

As state continues to reopen, some office workers fear COVID-19 exposure, retaliation: Employment lawyers in Minnesota say they're hearing from workers who say they have been retaliated against for raising safety concerns about workplace conditions — or who have hesitated to speak up because they fear retaliation.

As more people return to work, 4 things to know about your rights: As the economy reopens, workers and employers are facing myriad questions and concerns about workplace safety. Here’s what you need to know about your rights as you return to work.


To read the original stories and see related articles, follow this link to the MPR News website.  https://www.mprnews.org/story/2020/07/07/latest-on-covid19-in-mn

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