ST. PAUL, Minn. (FOX 9) - Minnesota has now recorded more than 60,000 cases of COVID-19, with 1,648 deaths and 52,768 patients no longer needing isolation. The Minnesota Department of Health reported 924 new cases Saturday morning, bringing the state’s cumulative total to 60,101.
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Eight more deaths were reported Saturday, with four linked to long-term care facilities. To date, 1,245 of Minnesota’s 1,648 COVID-19 deaths are patients that resided in long-term care or assisted living facilities.
Visiting restrictions have loosened for some long-term care facilities in Minnesota as their Essential Caregiver programs begin. The programs were launched after the health department gave more guidance last month. It allows certain family members or others to visit loved ones at nursing homes, but there are strict protocols in place.
The 924 new cases reported Saturday come from 17,897 completed tests -- a positivity rate of 5.2 percent. The positivity rate is determined by the number of tests that come back positive for COVID-19 out of all the tests conducted.
Testing has increased slightly in Minnesota. This weekend, Ramsey County is holding free drive-thru and walk-up COVID-19 testing, with no insurance needed.
Health Commission Jan Malcolm said Wednesday the state’s rolling 7-day average positivity rate was 5.2 percent, up from 4.9 percent the previous week. The World Health Organization recommends positivity rates remain at 5 percent or lower for at least 14 days.
More than one million COVID-19 tests have been completed in Minnesota to date. The state now has the capacity to administer more than 20,000 tests per day.
All 87 Minnesota counties have now seen at least two cases of COVID-19.
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 18 percent of cases. The 0-19 age group is one of the fastest growing case groups, with approximately 14 percent of cases.
WHAT'S THE PLAN FOR SCHOOLS THIS FALL?
Gov. Tim Walz announced July 30 school districts will be able to reopen this fall in-person, with distance learning or a hybrid of the two based on COVID-19 data in the counties of each school district statewide. Each school district will announce their own plan before classes begin this fall.
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The new plan also gives each Minnesota family the option to keep their children learning from a distance if they are not comfortable or able to send their child back to school in-person this fall. Overall, the plan prioritizes keeping younger children in the classroom because transmission is much less likely for them and in-person learning is more important for their development.
GOVERNOR WALZ ORDERS STATEWIDE MASK MANDATE
As of July 25, Minnesotans are required to wear a face covering in all public indoor spaces and businesses unless they are alone.
The order requires people to wear a face mask or face covering in all public indoor spaces and indoor businesses, including when waiting outside to enter the space. Workers must wear masks outside when social distancing cannot be maintained.
People do not have to wear a mask at home, in a private vehicle, in a hotel or motel room or other short or long-term housing unit. Masks are also not required to be worn outdoors or when participating in outdoor recreation.
A full list of where you do and do not have to wear a mask in Minnesota can be found here.
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.
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 throat 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.