(FOX 9) - The Minnesota Department of Health reported 611 new cases of COVID-19 and eight more deaths Thursday, bringing the total number of positive cases the state has seen to date to 44,347 and the death toll from the disease to 1,526.
Approximately 86 percent of the state's coronavirus patients have recovered and no longer need to be isolated.
There were 14,812 tests completed between Tuesday and Wednesday--a positivity rate of approximately 4.1 percent.
The positivity rate is one of the main indicators MDH is using to determine whether the state needs to dial-back its reopening. If the percent of tests that are positive is greater or equal to 15 percent or has daily increases of 5 percent over 14 days, the health officials would consider re-establishing some of the restrictions to slow the spread of the virus.
Half of the eight deaths were residents of long-term care facilities. Residents of long-term care facilities account for approximately 8 percent of Minnesota's COVID-19 cases, but around 77 percent of deaths.
There are currently 249 COVID-19 patients in the hospital, with 103 of them in the ICU. Approximately 10 percent of Minnesota's COVID-19 cases have required hospitalization.
More than 805,000 COVID-19 tests have been completed in Minnesota to date. Gov. Tim Walz announced recently that the state has now reached his "moonshot" goal of having the capacity to administer more than 20,000 tests per day.
The 20-29 age group accounts for the largest percentage of COVID-19 cases in Minnesota with approximately 23 percent of cases. The 30-39 age group has the second most number of cases with approximately 19 percent of cases.
LONG-TERM CARE VISITS NOW ALLOWED
Residents of long-term care facilities can now visit with friends and family members outdoors, according to new Minnesota Department of Health guidelines.
Under strict conditions, residents can now meet face-to-face with visitors at scheduled times.
“The Minnesota Department of Health recognizes how the effects of isolation can have serious impacts on the health and well-being of residents in LTC facilities,” said newly released guidelines from the state. “At this time, we believe the risk of COVID-19 transmission in LTC facilities and the need for family, partner or close friend interaction can be balanced under certain conditions.”
STAY SAFE MN: PHASE 3
Minnesota has moved into its next phase of reopening, loosening more coronavirus-related restrictions. The third phase of Gov. Tim Walz's Stay Safe MN plan allows restaurants to reopen indoor dining at 50 percent capacity as well as allows gyms, swimming pools and entertainment venues to reopen in limited capacities.
YOUTH, ADULT SPORTS RESUME
The Minnesota Department of Health has allowed outdoor youth and adult recreational sports leagues to resume in full as of June 24.
Team practices, scrimmages, and games between teams will all be allowed to start for outdoor sports. For indoor leagues, practices resumed June 24, and games and scrimmages were allowed to resume July 1.
The state is recommending leagues and teams avoid large gatherings outside of games and instead organize in "pods" of the same players, coaches, and staff members of no more than 25 people. Pods should avoid intermixing.
While the state is allowing teams to resume games, health officials are recommending teams phase in their restarts. The full guidance for teams is available here.
WHAT'S THE PLAN FOR SCHOOLS IN FALL?
Guidance released June 18 by the Minnesota Department of Education and Minnesota Department of Health includes a strong recommendation that school districts and charter schools create three different contingency plans for three possible scenarios for start of the school year this fall.
Officials have not made a decision on which model of educational delivery—in-person, hybrid model or distance learning—they will go with for the 2020-21 school year. They expect to make and announce a decision by the week of July 27. You can read more about the requirements and recommendations for each scenario here.
ONLY ONE COUNTY STILL REPORTING NO CONFIRMED CASES
Eighty-six of Minnesota's 87 counties now have confirmed cases of COVID-19. Lake of the Woods County is the only county that has yet to report a confirmed case, although health officials say the virus is likely circulating in every Minnesota community, whether a county has a confirmed case or not.
MDH has two hotlines for questions related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The hotline for community mitigation (schools, childcare, business) questions is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. The number to call is 651-297-1304 or 1-800-657-3504.
The hotline for health questions is also open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. The number to call is 651-201-3920 or 1-800-657-3903.
The state has also launched a helpline for people to report incidents of bias or discrimination resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic to the Minnesota Department of Human Rights. The number to call is 1-833-454-0148. Translation and interpretation services are available.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU ARE SICK
MDH says if you have symptoms of a respiratory disease (such as fever, coughing, muscle aches, sore threat and headache) you should stay home for at least seven days and at least three days with without a fever (without fever-reducing medicine).
If you have symptoms and can manage those symptoms at home, MDH said you do not have to seek health care or be tested for COVID-19. Just stay home if you are sick. If your symptoms worsen, if possible, call ahead before going into your health care provider.
The virus that causes COVID-19 is spread primarily by respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes, similar to how influenza is spread. It can also spread when people touch surfaces that have been contaminated by an infected person and then touch their eyes, nose or mouth.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, patients with confirmed COVID-19 have had mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms including fever, cough and shortness of breath. Some patients have had other symptoms including muscle aches, headache, sore throat or diarrhea.
Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure
The CDC and MDH recommend Minnesotans do the following to protect themselves and others and limit the spread of COVID-19:
- Stay home and away from others if you are sick
- Cover your coughs and sneezes with your elbow or a tissue
- Wash your hands frequently for 20 seconds with soap and water
- Avoid touching your face throughout the day
- Put distance between yourself and other people if COVID-19 is spreading in your community. The CDC recommends staying a minimum of 6 feet away.