Dec. 8 update on COVID-19 in MN: 22 more deaths; 3K new cases

A plastic container holding bags sits on a cart in front of a car.
Test kits sit on a cart Dec. 2 at the HealthPartners winterized drive-up COVID-19 testing site in Bloomington, Minn.
Christine T. Nguyen | MPR News

Updated: 3:31 p.m.

Minnesota officials on Tuesday reported another 22 COVID-19 deaths, extending an already difficult December — 434 deaths posted in the first eight days, following more than 1,100 deaths in November.

The new COVID-19 caseload was modest — 3,080 newly confirmed or probable cases — but this reflected very low testing levels, not an improvement in the state’s outbreak.

New COVID-19 related deaths reported in Minnesota each day

New hospital admissions continued to ebb from last Tuesday’s record. Still, hospitalizations remain high. Officials say more than 1,600 people remain in the hospital with COVID-19, with more than 350 needing intensive care.

The newest numbers are part of a crucial week of news and decision-making around the pandemic. Gov. Tim Walz and a bipartisan group of lawmakers on Tuesday laid out details on the distribution of vaccines in Minnesota that could begin by Christmas.

By week’s end, state public health leaders say evidence of an expected new wave of cases and hospitalizations originating from Thanksgiving holiday gatherings is likely to begin to surface.

New COVID-19 hospitalizations in Minnesota

The deaths reported Tuesday raised Minnesota’s count to 4,027. Among those who’ve died, about two-thirds had been living in long-term care or assisted living facilities; most had underlying health problems.

The newest numbers put Minnesota’s total of confirmed or probable cases at 359,203 to date. In about 88 percent of those cases, people have recovered to the point they no longer need to be isolated.

New COVID-19 cases per day in Minnesota

Caseloads spread across age groups

People in their 20s still make up the age bracket with the state’s largest number of confirmed cases — nearly 70,000 since the pandemic began, including more than 37,000 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 28,000 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.

Percent of COVID-19 tests to come back positive

New caseloads ebb in rural Minnesota

Central and northern Minnesota drove much of the increase in new cases over the past five weeks, while Hennepin and Ramsey counties showed 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. Hard-hit northwestern Minnesota may soon have fewer new cases per capita than the metro.

New COVID-19 cases by Minnesota region

Hot spots continue to pop up in rural counties relative to their population.

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

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.

‘Hang on’

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.

Active, confirmed COVID-19 cases in Minnesota

Besides Tuesday’s announcement on vaccine distribution, the governor this week also plans to say if he’ll extend his current order banning in-person bar and restaurant service beyond Dec. 18.

Even as vaccinations near, the “hardest weeks” still lie ahead, Walz on Monday announced that Minnesota would trim its quarantine guidance for those who’ve been exposed to COVID-19 from 14 days down to seven to 10 days, per federal recommendations.

He urged Minnesotans to hang on. “We’re getting close here. Just dig deep. Wear the masks. Try not to gather outside your own family, and let’s get this thing done.”

Gov. Tim Walz and state health leaders brief reporters on plans to rollout vaccines:

Gov. Tim Walz and a bipartisan group of lawmakers are taking reporter questions on vaccine distribution:

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 Monday.

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

Top headlines

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As COVID-19 spreads in Minn. prisons, loved ones worry: Prisons have lowered their numbers and taken other measures to stem the virus’s spread. But that hasn’t been enough to stop deadly outbreaks in Minnesota and across the United States — and family members and advocates say state and federal governments haven’t done enough to keep their loved ones safe.

How COVID is disproportionately hitting Minnesota’s Latino community: The rising COVID-19 cases are startling everywhere, but the rates in the Latino community in Minnesota and across the country are particularly alarming. Many Latinos work essential jobs that can't be done remotely and are more likely to be exposed to the virus. And those who are not authorized to be in the country are in a particular bind: They don’t qualify for government benefits that can be a financial lifeline for families struggling during the pandemic.

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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.