Minnesota’s COVID-19 October surge continues to escalate in the waning days of the month. The Health Department Wednesday reported some 1,900 newly confirmed cases and 19 more deaths.
The number of active, confirmed COVID-19 cases set a new record, with a seven-day average of 12,858. New cases are growing more quickly than tests here for the first time in six months. Hospitalizations continue to climb.
State public health leaders are expected to brief reporters at 2 p.m.
Separately on Wednesday, Gov. Tim Walz said plans are underway to Minnesotans ages 18 to 35, a group he says driving much of the asymptomatic virus spread.
The state will ask people in that age group to come to pop-up testing sites across the state, “pull over for 30 seconds and take this test and we get a result instantly, this one we get in 15 minutes. And we can start to break this,” he said during a stop in Moorhead, Minn.
Overall, Wednesday’s data added more detail to an increasingly grim portrait of the pandemic in Minnesota amid a troubling week of record hospitalizations, steeply rising caseloads and double-digit daily deaths.
State officials had expected that late summer and early fall gatherings would bring a surge of cases in October. They also anticipated the wave would put more people in the hospital — and lead to more deaths.
That’s come to pass, and the surge appears poised to spill into November.
Like earlier in the pandemic, health authorities believe the current outbreaks are being driven more by people letting their guard down at family gatherings and celebrations, sporting events and informal meetups rather than at stores, restaurants and bars.
They are especially concerned because people can have the coronavirus and spread COVID-19 when they don’t have symptoms.
Of the 139,444 cases of the disease confirmed in the pandemic to date, about 89 percent have recovered to the point they no longer need to be isolated.
The deaths reported Wednesday raised Minnesota’s toll to 2,387. Among those who’ve died, about 70 percent had been living in long-term care or assisted living facilities; most had underlying health problems.
New cases are up dramatically over the past month in all age groups. That includes a concerning rise in the number of new cases among Minnesotans ages 60 and older.
People in their 20s still make up the age bracket with the state’s largest number of confirmed cases — more than 30,500 since the pandemic began, including more than 17,000 among people ages 20-24.
The numbers help explain why experts remain particularly concerned about 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 and that spread could hamper attempts to reopen schools and campuses completely to in-person teaching.
The number of high school-age children confirmed with the disease has also grown, with more than 12,200 total cases among children ages 15 to 19 since the pandemic began.