Dec. 6 update on COVID-19 in MN: Death toll nears 4,000

A person wearing a face mask and PPE talks to a person in a car.
Nurse Brittany Mischel hands a person paperwork Wednesday at the HealthPartners winterized drive-up COVID-19 testing site in Bloomington. HealthPartners began its transition to indoor and winterized drive-up COVID testing sites, which includes the location in the HealthPartners corporate headquarters parking deck.
Christine T. Nguyen | MPR News

Minnesota health officials reported another 64 COVID-19 deaths on Sunday, bringing the overall pandemic death toll in the state close to 4,000.

The state also recorded another 5,588 COVID cases, pushing the total number past 350,000.

Averaged over the past week, the number of new cases each day in Minnesota has dropped in recent days — but so has the number of test results reported, meaning the test positivity rate has remained fairly steady at just below 12 percent.

State officials have long said that 5 percent test positivity is cause for concern.

The average number of deaths each day over the past week is 58. Thirty-eight of the 64 deaths reported Sunday were residents of long-term care facilities.

Officials continue to brace for another expected wave of cases, hospitalizations and deaths in coming weeks originating from Thanksgiving gatherings.

New COVID-19 related deaths reported in Minnesota each day

Here are Minnesota’s current COVID-19 statistics:

  • 3,984 deaths (64 new)

  • 350,862 positive cases (5,588 new); 308,218 off isolation

  • 4.6 million tests, 2.6 million people tested (about 46 percent of the population)

  • 11.8 percent seven-day positive test rate (officials find 5 percent or more concerning)

New COVID-19 hospitalizations in Minnesota

New hospital admissions continue to ebb from Tuesday’s record seven-day average, but hospitalization levels remain high. Nearly 1,700 people were in hospitals with COVID-19 as of Thursday; more than 350 needed intensive care.

The seven-day average for daily hospital admissions was about 227 on Sunday — down from 286 last Tuesday but still up from 153 a month ago.

The number of active COVID-19 cases in Minnesota dropped below 40,000 on Sunday for the first time since Nov. 12.

Caseloads spread across age groups

People in their 20s still make up the age bracket with the state’s largest number of confirmed cases — more than 67,500 since the pandemic began, including more than 36,000 among people ages 20 to 24.

New Minnesota COVID-19 cases by age, adjusted for population

The number of high school-age children confirmed with the disease has also grown, with more than 27,000 total cases among children ages 15 to 19 since the pandemic began.

Although less likely to feel the worst effects of the disease and end up hospitalized, experts worry youth and young adults will spread it to grandparents and other vulnerable populations.

It’s especially concerning because people can have the coronavirus and spread COVID-19 when they don’t have symptoms.

Gov. Tim Walz said recently the state has data showing infection rates rising around bar and restaurant activity after 9 p.m. among young adults, noting that people who have the virus but don’t have symptoms may be unwittingly spreading it.

It’s one of the reasons he’s ordered a ban on in-person service at bars and restaurants until Dec. 18.

Virus surges across rural Minnesota

Regionally, central and northern Minnesota have driven much of the recent increase in new cases while Hennepin and Ramsey counties show some of the slowest case growth in the state.

After a spike in confirmed cases through much of November, all regions of the state have seen new case numbers plateau or start to fall in recent days.

New COVID-19 cases by Minnesota region

Collectively, rural areas continue to report the most new COVID-19 cases per capita.

MN counties with the fastest per-capita growth in COVID-19 cases

Deaths continue to be highest in greater Minnesota, with per capita death rates in the western part of the state four to five times higher than in the Twin Cities metro area.

Latino cases climb

In Minnesota and across the country, COVID-19 has hit communities of color disproportionately hard in both cases and deaths. That’s been especially true for Minnesotans of Hispanic descent for much of the pandemic.

New COVID-19 cases per capita by race

Distrust of the government, together with deeply rooted health and economic disparities, have hampered efforts to boost testing among communities of color, officials say, especially among unauthorized immigrants who fear their personal information may be used to deport them.

Similar trends have been seen among Minnesota’s Indigenous residents. Counts among Indigenous people jumped in October relative to population.

New COVID-19 cases per day in Minnesota

1 in 3 recent deaths tied to COVID

Minnesota’s daily death counts from COVID-19 have been especially hard to handle over the past two months. More than 1,100 people died in November alone, about 30 percent of the total in the entire pandemic.

It’s now killing Minnesotans at a rate far higher than any recent flu season. Roughly one-third of all recent deaths in Minnesota are tied to COVID-19.

Minnesota deaths due to respiratory illness

In the past few years, respiratory illnesses have been a major contributing factor in about 5 to 10 percent of all deaths in Minnesota, depending on the time of year.

They accounted for around 20 percent of deaths during the state’s May COVID-19 wave. Now it’s even higher: nearly 40 percent of all deaths in Minnesota in recent weeks have been attributed to a respiratory illness such as COVID-19, influenza or pneumonia.

Percent of COVID-19 tests to come back positive

Officials continue to plead with Minnesotans to wear masks in public gathering spaces, socially distance, stay home if they don’t feel well and otherwise stay vigilant against the spread of COVID-19.

Walz said recently he’d likely call on Minnesotans not to travel or gather for Christmas, adding there was “little reason” to expect a change in the trajectory of the virus in the next four weeks.

Active, confirmed COVID-19 cases in Minnesota

Developments around the state

Mayo Clinic suspending some southern MN clinic operations amid COVID

Mayo Clinic Health System says it is has temporarily suspended operations at its Belle Plaine clinic and will be temporarily suspending operations at the Mankato-Northridge, Le Sueur, Janesville and Waterville clinics as of Dec. 7.

The reason: the ongoing surge of patients hospitalized with COVID-19.

“Suspensions are necessary to reallocate staff to other critical care needs in response to the COVID-19 surge,” the organization said.

The closures are expected to last six weeks. COVID-19 testing is still taking place at the Belle Plaine Clinic.

— MPR News Staff

Need housing aid? Deadline is nearing

Time is running out for cash-strapped Minnesotans to apply for housing assistance money made available during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This summer, the Walz administration directed $100 million of federal aid to a housing program to help people in financial distress pay their mortgage, rent and utilities. As of this week, about $30 million remains, but there’s a Monday deadline to apply. 

“We’ve got room for one more big push here to pay December bills,” said Minnesota Housing Commissioner Jennifer Ho who noted that the grant money has gone further than officials expected but added that they know help is still needed.

Katrina Hull of Albert Lea said it’s been critical assistance while she’s been out of work due to coronavirus fallout and she’s had to care for an elderly family member.

“Rent was still due, utilities were still due and I was in a pretty big bind,” Hull said.

Information about the program can be found by dialing 211 or going to 211unitedway.org.

— Brian Bakst | MPR News


Top headlines

COVID relief plan snagged on $500 payment to families: As Minnesota lawmakers work on a plan to provide businesses and workers relief amid the COVID-19 pandemic, a plan to provide struggling families with a one-time $500 payment has emerged as a stumbling block.

Deadline looms for Minnesotans to seek COVID-19 housing aid: Minnesota residents who have fallen behind on their rent, mortgage or utility payments amid the coronavirus pandemic should apply for state aid before a looming deadline of Monday night, Gov. Tim Walz and other officials urged Thursday.

COVID-19 claims life of Hmong American leader and Secret War veteran: Tou-Fu Vang, a Hmong community leader and former lieutenant colonel in the Secret War, died on Thanksgiving Day after several weeks in the hospital fighting COVID-19.


COVID-19 in Minnesota

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

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