ROCHESTER, Minn. — More than 1,000 dead. That's the new normal in Minnesota from COVID-19.
As predicted with trepidation by Gov. Tim Walz some 21 days ago, the state ended the month of May by surpassing 1,000 deaths from COVID-19 on Saturday, May 30. With 30 new deaths recorded Saturday, the state now has lost 1,026 Minnesotans to the illness.
The illness needed just three weeks to kill 500 Minnesotans between May 7-30, a toll that had previously required seven weeks.
That the illness has more than doubled its mortality count under circumstances of widespread stay at home orders throughout April and May — orders now about to be relaxed — becomes even more troubling in light of the widespread, large protests in the Twin Cities this week over the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer.
Any spikes that occur as a result of this week's protests however, will likely take three weeks to become apparent, given the incubation period of new cases and then the lag time for test results to return. That places those cases in late June, a period already depicted as a window for a peak in the outbreak.
Saturday marked the fourth day in a row with deaths near or above 30, a first for the state. Doubling rates of new cases have been slowing for weeks, but state health officials believe the upward trend in deaths is continuing toward a peak they also have placed sometime in late June, if not July.
The state reported Saturday one death each in Nobles, Itasca, Crow Wing and Clay counties, three in Anoka and Dakota counties, seven in Ramsey County and 13 in Hennepin County.
Testing identified 660 cases Saturday, bringing the statewide confirmed case total 24,190 a number believed to be an undercount. New cases were distributed widely throughout the state with the exception of an ongoing spike that appears to be unrelated to meat processing in Mower County.
On Saturday Mower County added 49 new cases. In two weeks' time, the southern Minnesota county, which is home to Austin, has seen its case numbers jump nearly 600 %, from 54 on May 16, to 303 on May 30. Local health officials say the cases appear to be multiplying in large households.
The number of Minnesotans being treated for COVID-19 in the ICU reached a new high at 263 on Saturday. An additional 326 residents are hospitalized with the illness in non-ICU settings.
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Minnesota Department of Health COVID-19 hotline: 651-201-3920.
COVID-19 discrimination hotline: 833-454-0148
Minnesota Department of Health COVID-19 website: Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) website.