Minnesota reports 19 new COVID-19 deaths, 352 more cases as state begins next step in reopening

The Minnesota Department of Health reported 19 more deaths from COVID-19 and 352 newly confirmed cases Wednesday, bringing the state's death toll from the disease to 1,236 and the total number of positive cases the state has seen so far to 28,869.

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz announced Friday he is loosening more coronavirus-related restrictions on Minnesota businesses. Walz announced Phase III of his Stay Safe MN plan, which will allow restaurant indoor dining, fitness centers, swimming pools and entertainment venues to reopen at a limited capacity on Wednesday, June 10. 

SOME HOSPITALS TAP SURGE CAPACITY

There are currently 427 people hospitalized with COVID-19, with 193 of them in the ICU. Approximately 12 percent of Minnesota's COVID-19 cases have required hospitalization.

Malcolm said Friday some Twin Cities metro hospitals have tapped their surge capacity to deal with an influx of ICU cases, but it's "encouragingly stable" at most hospitals, including those in Greater Minnesota.

MDH: PEOPLE WHO'VE ATTENDED GEORGE FLOYD RALLIES SHOULD GET TESTED 

If you've attended a vigil, rally or protest in the aftermath of George Floyd's death, the Minnesota Department of Health is asking you to get tested for COVID-19.

Health officials worry the mass gatherings over the past week may have allowed for the spread of the virus. The department says the virus spreads quickly and easily in large groups who are together for long periods of time. Malcolm said Minnesota won't know for two to three more weeks if recent unrest and protests caused a spike in cases.

80 PERCENT OF DEATHS IN LONG-TERM CARE

Of the Minnesotans who have died from COVID-19, 968 were residents of long-term care facilities. Residents of long-term care facilities now account for approximately 11 percent of Minnesota's positive COVID-19 cases, but around 80 percent of deaths. 

MDH has begun publicizing more COVID-19 data about health care workers. According to the latest report, 3,006 health care workers have tested positive for the coronavirus. Of those, 1,813 of them were likely exposed on the job. 

Approximately 85 percent of patients confirmed to have COVID-19 have now recovered and no longer need to self-isolate.

Officials are also releasing numbers for "probable" COVID-19 deaths in which the virus is listed on the death certificate, but a positive test has not been documented for the person. That number is currently at 11.

OVER 7,000 TESTS COMPLETED IN 24-HOUR PERIOD

State and private labs reported 7,779 completed tests in from Sunday to Monday. Malcolm said Minnesota now has the capacity for 15,000 coronavirus tests per day.

As of June 5, MDH is reporting tests per test instead of per person to account for changes in testing capacity and for individuals who are tested more than once over the course of the pandemic.

Last month, Gov. Tim Walz announced a “moonshot” project with the Mayo Clinic and the University of Minnesota to boost the state’s testing capacity to 20,000 tests per day. 

Everyone with symptoms is now eligible for a test and 127 testing sites have been set up around the state. 

TWO COUNTIES STILL REPORTING NO CONFIRMED CASES

Eighty-five of Minnesota's 87 counties now have confirmed cases of COVID-19. Cook and Lake of the Woods are the only counties that have 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.

LIVE MAP: A county-by-county breakdown of Minnesota's COVID-19 cases

MDH confirmed the first case of COVID-19 in Minnesota on March 6. On March 11, the World Health Organization declared the outbreak of COVID-19 a pandemic. 

The state has launched an online dashboard where the public can find data regarding COVID-19 testing, supplies and more. 

COVID-19 HOTLINES

MDH has three hotlines for questions related to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The hotline for health questions is open daily from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. The number to call is 651-201-3920 or 1-800-657-3903. 

The hotline for community mitigation (schools, childcare, business) questions is also 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 housing questions is 651-296-8215 for single-family residences and 651-297-4455 for multi-family residences. The hotline is staff Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

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

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the virus that causes COVID-19 is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person between people are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet) through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks. 

It can also spread when people touch surfaces that have been contaminated by an infected person and then touch their eyes, nose or mouth.

Some recent studies have also suggested that COVID-19 may be spread by people who are not showing symptoms. 

Symptoms of COVID-19 can include fever, cough, shortness of breath, muscles aches, headache, sore throat or diarrhea. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure.

If you have symptoms of COVID-19 and you can manage them at home, MDH says you do not need to go to the doctor or get tested. Instead, you should do the following: 

Stay home

Wash your hands often

Cover your coughs and sneezes

Avoid sharing personal household items like dishes, towels, bedding, etc. 

Clean surfaces you touch often

If your symptoms worsen or you notice any of the emergency warning signs (trouble breathing, ongoing pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion or not being able to wake up, bluish lips or face), call your health can provider right away. 

People are advised to call their doctor or clinic before going in, if possible. They will give you instructions to help protect you and other patients. 

HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF FROM COVID-19

The CDC and MDH recommend Minnesotans do the following to protect themselves and their loved ones and limit the spread of COVID-19: 

Stay home and avoid gatherings with people outside of your household

Keep 6 feet of space between yourself and other people when you do go out

Wash your hands often

Cover your coughs and sneezes 

Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces

Clean surfaces that you touch often 

The CDC is now recommending people wear face masks in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain such as grocery stores and pharmacies as well as in areas that are seeing significant community transmission of the virus. 

In Minneapolis and St. Paul, masks are now required indoors. 

Wearing a mask can not only prevent you from getting sick, but also helps people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others.