ST. PAUL -- The number of reported deaths in Minnesota related to COVID-19 jumped to nine on Sunday, March 29, climbing by four.
Three of those people who died were residents at care facilities in Hennepin County, said Jan Malcolm, deputy commissioner at the Minnesota Department of Health.
Two of those deaths were patients from the same care facility. One of those fatalities, a 50-year-old man with underlying health conditions, is the youngest fatal case of COVID-19 so far in Minnesota. The two other patients who died were in their 80s and 90s, Malcolm added. The fourth reported death occurred in Martin County, Malcolm said in a conference call update Sunday. No further information on that patient was available at the time.
Of the nine deaths so far in Minnesota, seven have been residents of long-term care facilities.
As of Sunday, 25 long-term care facilities reported a total of 32 cases of COVID-19 — with 21 cases in facility residents and 11 cases among facility staff.
Malcolm said care facilities isolate patients and staff if they have symptoms and that care facility staff are prioritized for testing.
“Care facilities and their workers are being very diligent,” Malcolm said. “We believe folks in long-term care facilities are making their facilities as safe as possible.”
MDH reported 503 laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Minnesota in a Sunday morning update. That includes 16 people currently being treated in intensive care, 39 cases of COVID-19 requiring hospitalization and 252 people who no longer need to be isolated.
The 62 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 announced Sunday is the biggest single-day jump in confirmed new cases since March 23, when MDH reported 66 new confirmed cases.
Cases have now been confirmed in 45 Minnesota counties. Cottonwood, Douglas, Isanti and Otter Tail reported their first cases Sunday.
The new confirmed cases are out of about 17,700 tests for COVID-19 performed across Minnesota as of Sunday. Malcolm said the number of confirmed cases is likely the “tip of the iceberg,” and the number of tests performed so far is still not the volume health officials would like to see.
“We should expect the virus is circulating in our communities,” Malcolm said.
No restrictions or special guidelines have been placed on facility health care workers, said Julie Bartkey, spokeswoman for the Department of Health.
For the past couple weeks, no public visitors to care facilities have been allowed in what Malcolm called a “difficult but necessary” step.
MDH’s Director of Infectious Disease Kris Ehresmann said Saturday there is no evidence that health care workers have been infected by a patient or patients who have the virus. Malcolm said she was unsure if that was still the case with the updated numbers released Sunday.
Of the 25 care facilities with COVID-19 cases, 18 facilities report one case, four facilities have two cases and three facilities have more than two, with one facility reporting four cases.
To augment testing results, state health officials are conducting “syndromic surveillance.” That means state health officials are compiling data on people presenting symptoms even if testing hasn’t been done or results from testing aren’t yet available to help monitor the spread of the illness across the state.
“It’s giving us some very useful data,” Malcolm said of the effort.
MDH COVID-19 hotline: 651-201-3920
School and child care hotline: 651-297-1304 or 800-657-3504
MDH COVID-19 website: www.health.state.mn.us/diseases/coronavirus/situation.html
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