St. Louis County again matched its daily high of coronavirus cases, registering 16 on Wednesday as the Minnesota Department of Health reported 681 statewide and increases in hospitalizations and intensive care patients. The data comes as the U.S. reached another grim milestone with 150,000 total deaths from COVID-19.

In St. Louis County, total cases of the coronavirus reached 348 after Wednesday’s report, more than double the amount since the 161 recorded at the end of June. The county’s first case was detected March 21.

Officials at the county Public Health and Human Service Department have stressed recently that more cases are being located in the northern part of the state. According to a county dashboard, which was last updated Monday, almost 220 cases reside in Duluth, with Hermantown, Hibbing and Meadowlands hovering around 20 cases each. The Quad Cities region of Virginia, Eveleth, Mountain Iron and Gilbert have between 0-20 cases total.

Spokesperson Dana Kazel said the county and Minnesota Health Department tested more than 1,300 people for the coronavirus as of Wednesday morning at the Chisholm testing location. They’re expecting results within 48-72 hours and could have a report by next week.

Statewide, MDH officials reported nine deaths linked to the virus. Hospitalizations increased by 16 to 310 total with 143 people now in ICU, two statistics health experts expect will continue to increase.

Infectious Disease Director Kris Ehresmann said during a Wednesday briefing that MDH is keeping an eye how hospitalizations are trending in relation to elective procedures at hospitals and clinics, which were shutdown earlier this year as the pandemic first arrived, noting they want to make sure personal protective equipment is available if a new surge arrives.

“The goal is not to make changes if we don’t have to,” she said.

Ehresmann added that bars and restaurants are continuing to be a source of transmission for the coronavirus and there are 28 new establishments MDH is reviewing. The median age of infection in those businesses is in the 20-29 age group, the fastest growing demographic at teh state and county level.

“We’re continuing to see [bars and restaurants] as a significant drive for the cases we’ve been seeing,” Ehresmann said. “It’s not just individual, but the ongoing ripple effect” that concerns the health officials.

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