May 25 update on COVID-19 in MN: Hospitalizations rise to new high

A person wearing a personal protective equipment at a drive thru site
Elizabeth Santoro, a medic with the Minnesota Air National Guard 133rd Medical Group, administers a free COVID-19 test to Thomas Harmon, 61, of Robbinsdale at the Minneapolis Armory on Saturday. There were several free testing locations across the state, which were operated by the National Guard, the Minnesota Department of Health and the State Emergency Operations Center.
Aaron Lavinsky | Star Tribune via AP

Minnesota hospitals are treating 605 patients for COVID-19, which exceeds the highest number by 40. The state reported 248 people in intensive care units, according to data released Monday, on the Memorial Day holiday. State officials said last week that some hospitals had increased ICU capacity. The previous record for COVID-19 patients in ICU was 233.

The death toll is at 881 confirmed related to coronavirus infections, with 12 newly reported deaths and 745 new infections confirmed.

Testing as reported by the Minnesota Department of Health dropped to 6,095, less than the daily totals of more than 8,000 over the holiday weekend. Free testing continued Monday at six National Guard armories around the state. To date, all labs in the state have tested more than 200,000 total tests.

COVID-19 in Minnesota as of May 25
COVID-19 in Minnesota as of May 25
David H. Montgomery | MPR News

The total number of positive tests now stands at 21,315, around 11 percent of those are health care workers.

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz on Saturday announced new guidance for places of worship, allowing churches, mosques and synagogues to resume services starting Wednesday as along as they keep gatherings to no more than 25 percent of building occupancy.

COVID-19 case outcomes in MN as of May 25
COVID-19 case outcomes in MN as of May 25
David H. Montgomery | MPR News

But state health officials say those new rules — and other recent easing of stay-at-home measures — don't mean the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic has passed.

"Large gatherings continue to present a clear, documented risk for increasing the spread of COVID-19. We continue to see pretty rapid increases in our numbers of cases and deaths," State Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said Saturday at a press briefing with Walz. "So even though we are slowly and carefully trying to open up opportunities for Minnesotans to resume activities that are so important ... this does not mean we're on the other side of this."

Developments from around the state

Minneapolis to require face masks in indoor public places

Starting this week, people in indoor public places in Minneapolis will be required to wear a face covering.

Mayor Jacob Frey announced the measure on Thursday as the latest in a series of emergency regulations designed to halt the spread of COVID-19. The regulation will take effect next Tuesday.

Frey said business owners will be able to refuse entry to anyone who's not wearing a face covering. The rule would apply to indoor public places in Minneapolis, not outdoor venues.

People can call 311 to report noncompliance, the mayor said. Violations could be punished by fines up to $1,000.

"We are not criminalizing forgetfulness. We are not penalizing people for a lack of awareness. We are approaching the implementation of the policy with grace and patience,” said Frey. “We are prioritizing outreach and education."

On Friday, Frey said that the city has purchased more than 9,000 cloth masks with money from the budgets for council members and the mayor's office. More masks are needed, however, especially in light of the new emergency regulation, Frey said.

The mayor encouraged people to take part in a Memorial Day mask drive, during which people can drop off donated masks at fire stations across Minneapolis.

— Brandt Williams | MPR News

Top headlines

Walz: Houses of worship can open at 25% occupancy, includes weddings and funerals: Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz announced new guidelines for religious services during a Saturday press briefing, allowing houses of worship to reopen at 25 percent occupancy while continuing to implore Minnesotans to follow public health recommendations.

Poll finds most Minnesotans support stay-home measures, but state is divided: A majority of Minnesota voters support the restrictions on everyday life the state imposed to try to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new MPR News/Star Tribune/KARE 11 Minnesota Poll. But a solid minority feels the state has gone too far.

Efforts aim to share COVID-19 info, help in St. Cloud's Somali-speaking community: As the number of cases of COVID-19 in the St. Cloud area continues to climb, an effort is underway to reach out to the region’s Somali American community with information and assistance.

COVID-19 in Minnesota

Data in these graphs are based off Minnesota Department of Health cumulative totals released at 11 a.m. daily. You can find more detailed statistics on COVID-19 at the Health Department website.

The coronavirus is transmitted through respiratory droplets, coughs and sneezes, similar to the way the flu can spread.

Government and medical leaders are urging people to wash their hands frequently and well, refrain from touching their faces, cover their coughs, disinfect surfaces and avoid large crowds, all in an effort to curb the virus’ rapid spread.

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