Minnesota reports 5 more COVID-19 deaths, 304 new cases Wednesday

The Minnesota Department of Health reported five more deaths and 304 new cases in Wednesday's COVID-19 report.

Minnesota's COVID-19 death toll is now at 1,397, with more than 79 percent with having been residents of congregate care facilities.

The daily total of patients hospitalized in intensive care is 160. 

To date, Minnesota has reported 33,763 positive tests for COVID-19 out of 529,643 completed tests. Of those who have tested positive, 29,707 no longer need to be isolated.

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

Under new guidance issued on Friday, the Minnesota Department of Health will allow outdoor youth and adult recreational sports leagues to resume in full starting June 24.

Team practices, scrimmages, and games between teams will all be allowed to start on June 24 for outdoor sports. For indoor leagues, the state says practices will be allowed to resume starting June 24, and games and scrimmages will be allowed to be played starting 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 as soon as June 24, 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.

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

COVID-19 HOTLINES

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. 

ABOUT COVID-19

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.