Minnesota’s COVID-19 numbers continue to paint a daunting picture of a rapidly worsening pandemic.

The Health Department on Tuesday reported 3,483 newly confirmed or probable cases of the disease — a new one-day record, breaking the prior record set a few days ago. Caseloads have skyrocketed over the past month.

COVID-19 hospital admissions remained high and climbing. Health Department data Tuesday put the number at 852 people hospitalized now with 197 needing intensive care.

The newest numbers continue to show the outbreak is not limited to just one region of the state or one demographic group. Cases are at record levels and rising across the board. That’s different from earlier in the pandemic when outbreaks were concentrated in particular areas or demographics.

Tuesday’s data showed more than 20,000 active confirmed cases, yet another startling first in the pandemic.

Of the 157,096 cases of the disease confirmed in the pandemic to date, about 85 percent have recovered to the point they no longer need to be isolated.

Fifteen more deaths reported Tuesday raised Minnesota’s toll to 2,499. Among those who’ve died, about 70 percent had been living in long-term care or assisted living facilities; most had underlying health problems.

Gov. Tim Walz urged Minnesotans on Tuesday to follow the advice and guidance of health experts.

“The virus takes no days off. While many are focused today on the election, COVID-19 is continuing its merciless spread across our state,” Walz said in a statement. “I’ve said from the beginning the virus’ spread will dictate our course and we are well into a dark chapter in the story of this pandemic. It is more important than ever that Minnesotans heed the advice of Dr. Birx and every other person who knows something about infection control — wear a mask, avoid crowds, keep distance from others, and take advantage of the many testing opportunities we have all over the state to find out your status.”

‘It’s going to get worse’

Minnesota’s problems are multiplying amid record outbreaks among its neighbors to the east and west. An explosion of cases that turned October into one of Minnesota’s worst months in the pandemic is spilling over into November.

“Minnesota is in a bad spot … and it’s going to get worse before it gets better,” Kris Ehresmann, the state’s infectious disease director, told reporters Monday as she implored Minnesotans to wear masks in public gathering spaces, socially distance and take other measures to stem the spread.

Health investigators, she added, are increasingly finding people with COVID-19 reluctant to provide details that would help trace the disease’s path. “This just accelerates the spread that were seeing even more,” she said.

“If we’re wondering what somebody else is going to do to fix this COVID problem, we’re missing the point,” Minnesota Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said Monday.

The positive test rate continues to climb, signaling that the increasing spread of the disease across the state. Officials watch that positive test rate closely and become concerned when it goes over 5 percent.

The seven-day average rate is currently more than 12 percent. The one-day rate from Tuesday’s reported data spiked to more than 30 percent.

The rampant spread is being driven now by the “thousands of seemingly small decisions” Minnesotans make daily to meet and gather with others without wearing masks, socially distancing or taking other steps to stem the spread, Malcolm told reporters last week.

She reiterated that Monday, noting that cases among health care workers are growing rapidly. They’re getting exposed in the community and bringing it into their health care workplaces.

“It’s not just one or two big notable events that’s causing this incredibly high level of community spread. It's a happy hour with a couple of friends, brunch on the weekends. It’s the weddings,” Malcolm said of the casual interactions now creating big problems. “These are the scenarios driving spread."

Caseloads rising across age groups

New cases are up dramatically over the past month in all age groups.

People in their 20s still make up the age bracket with the state’s largest number of confirmed cases — more than 33,000 since the pandemic began, including more than 18,600 among people ages 20-24.

The number of high school-age children confirmed with the disease has also grown, with more than 13,000 total cases among children ages 15 to 19 since the pandemic began.

Those numbers help explain why experts remain particularly concerned about teens and young adults as spreaders of the virus.

While 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.

That led Gov. Tim Walz last week to urge testing Minnesotans ages 18 to 35, a group he says is driving much of the asymptomatic virus spread.

"We want them to get tested so they can then know if they're infected so they can isolate,” added Dan Huff, an assistant state health commissioner. “That will help us stop that source of transmission in an area we just see as a major reservoir for the disease spreading out through the state."

This story originally appeared at: https://www.mprnews.org/story/2020/11/03/latest-on-covid19-in-mn of story Questions or requests? Contact MPR News editor Meg Martin at newspartners@mpr.org © 2020 Minnesota Public Radio. All rights reserved.

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