Laboratory audits reveal 138 more COVID-19 deaths in Minnesota

Minnesota health officials announced Tuesday that an audit of four laboratories turned up additional lab data confirming 138 more deaths from COVID-19 in the state. 

According to MDH, the audit of unverified possible COVID-19 case reports identified 891 cases and 138 deaths that were previously unreported to MDH by private labs in violation of a state rule. These cases and deaths occurred over the course of the last year. The cases will be attributed to the appropriate date on the state's website.

The 138 deaths were reported to MDH previously, but could not be confirmed without the data. That data now allows MDH to verify them as COVID-19-related deaths. 

Two deaths were newly reported on Tuesday, and the 138 newly discovered deaths brings the day's total to 140. Of the 140 deaths,138 were residents in longterm care facilities. A total of 1,641 new or newly discovered cases were reported Tuesday.

Health officials would not name the labs because of the investigation. Some of the labs also operate in other states, health officials said. Minnesota has 924 labs reporting data to it during the pandemic.

An official with M Health Fairview confirmed 358 positive COVID-19 cases from Legacy HealthEast sites weren't reported to MDH from Dec. 21 to Feb. 16. There were not any long-term care patients among these positive cases. The officials said the cases went unreported due to test coding issues in the technical interface, but the issue has been fixed.

Meanwhile, Minnesota officials announced Tuesday the state is expanding vaccine eligibility as, tomorrow, it expects to reach its goal of vaccinating 70% of Minnesota seniors. The announcement comes several weeks ahead of schedule after the state used vaccines from the federal government.

As of Tuesday, at least 1,086,936 Minnesotans have received at least one dose of the vaccine, while 602,623 have received both doses.