ROCHESTER, Minn. — In the continuation of an ongoing reshaping of the COVID-19 outbreak, the state of Minnesota on Tuesday, June 30, reported 444 cases and six deaths from the illness.

One death was reported each in Rice and Mille Lacs counties, and four in Hennepin County. Two of the four deaths were among residents of long-term care. The death total from the illness in the state is now 1,441.

The state is both testing more residents and finding more cases, prompting health officials to increasingly point at the relatively low "case positivity rate" as evidence — barring pockets of outbreaks — that the virus remains in a manageable state in the region at this time.

The percentage of tests that have returned positive on a seven-day average in Minnesota is currently around 4%. When, last month, the state was still conserving its testing for special populations and the very sick, the case positivity rate reflected a targetted use of tests more than prevalence of the illness in the community, and was therefore a less meaningful metric.

As testing facilities state open their doors for aymptomatic people however, the case positivity rate is shedding light on the liklihood that roughly 4% to 6% of the population has the virus.

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The state is estimating that the true case rate is roughly 10 times that of those identified. With just more than 36,000 laboratory-confirmed cases so far, that would suggest that 360,000 or 6% of Minnesotans currently have the virus.

Daily deaths have dropped from highs in the 20s and 30s last month to nearly 10 consecutive days in the single digits in late June, a streak not seen since early April. This has alligned with another trend, one in which the primary carriers of the illness are increasingly young adults in their 20s and last week were tied to activity in bars and restaurants.

The new cases reported Tuesday reflect a continuation of a modest outbreak in Stearns County, which reported 36 new cases. Olmsted County continues to report daily new cases in the double digits, as well, and cases are inching up in Scott and Hennepin counties.

The state health systems processed 12,705 tests on Tuesday, all of them in private labs. Monday, Gov. Tim Walz and leaders from Mayo Clinic and the University of Minnesota announced that state's health systems had achieved its "moonshot" goal of a 20,000-daily testing capacity.

The state has yet to conduct 20,000 tests in a single day, however, coming close only once. The lab capacity required for mass-testing is simply one portion of the moonshot, it would seem, while persuading the public to seek testing, and the state's disparate health systems to provide testing, is another.

That need for "better communication" in these objectives is why Walz and state Health Commisisioner Jan Malcolm used the occasion Monday to encourage all Minnesotans who feel they have had some exposure to seek testing, to do so, whether they have symptoms or not.

Though the Tuesday testing number falls far below the state's 20,000-daily testing capacity, it does push the state across the 600,000 mark. In another positive sign, intensive care unity use for COVID-19 continues to drop across Minnesota and is now down to 136 beds, a demand the state has not seen since late April. In total, just 270 Minnesotans are hospitalized with COVID-19.

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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.