ROCHESTER, Minn. — On a day in which crowds vastly exceeding the state COVID-19 guidance limit were allowed to cluster hours in advance of a visit by President Donald Trump to a Bemidji airfield, the state of Minnesota reported record-setting COVID-19 testing and case numbers on Friday, Sept. 18.

Health officials reported 1,099 new cases on nearly 30,000 tests for the day. Officially, the state reported an additional 29,431 tests. The new cases bring the laboratory case total to 80,807.

On Tuesday, Gov. Tim Walz issued a letter to both the Trump and Biden campaigns notifying them of the crowd limits under statewide COVID-19 guidance and asking for their cooperation. During the early afternoon on Friday, a masked Joe Biden toured a largely empty union training center near Duluth. In Bemidji, afternoon photos online show a closely packed crowd exceeding 1,000 people while waiting for the president.

Mixed in with the soaring new case numbers on Friday were 100 cases in Winona County, which is 10 times the usual for the day, and a volume suggesting that a community initiative by the state health department to offer two days of testing on the Winona State campus this week has exposed widespread transmission in Winona, a southeastern Minnesota college town.

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Also unusual in the new case numbers, the state has reported on Friday 39 cases in Pine County, a rural border region north of the Twin Cities and home to just 29,000 residents and the Grand Casino Hinckley. Other hot spots included St. Louis County, which reported 49 more cases, while an additional 38 cases were identified in Stearns County. Both counties are home to college campuses.

The state reported eight deaths from COVID-19 on Friday, including one death each in Anoka, Dakota, Olmsted and Yellow Medicine counties, and two deaths each in Ramsey and Hennepin counties. Six of the deaths were among residents of long-term care. The COVID-19 death toll in the state has now reached 1,950.

There are currently 136 people hospitalized with COVID-19, 114 in an ICU setting.

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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.