New COVID-19 cases stay level Tuesday

Brian Arola, The Free Press, Mankato, Minn.
·3 min read

Apr. 13—MANKATO — COVID-19 case totals remained relatively low in area counties Tuesday.

The 66 newly confirmed cases in the south-central region were about in line with Monday's 68, according to the Minnesota Department of Health.

Nearly all the previous days in April had at least 70 new cases, as the region continues to experience high levels caused by contagious variants.

Mondays and Tuesdays typically have lower totals due to lags in reporting over the weekend, so the relatively low numbers so far this week aren't unusual. The rest of the week should provide more insight into which direction cases are trending.

Area counties had no newly confirmed deaths Tuesday. Minnesota had three COVID-19 deaths statewide, raising its pandemic death toll to 6,962.

Of the 66 new cases in south-central Minnesota, 29 of them were in Blue Earth County. Nicollet County's 10 were the next most.

All nine counties had at least one new case. The full list of new cases by county includes:

* Blue Earth County — 29

* Nicollet County — 10

* Le Sueur County — 6

* Martin County — 6

* Brown County — 5

* Watonwan County — 4

* Faribault County — 3

* Waseca County — 2

* Sibley County — 1

Statewide, there's no doubt Minnesota is seeing another COVID-19 wave. The questions that can't be answered exactly right now: How long will it last and how bad will it be?

Disease metrics continue to show Minnesota headed down the wrong path with active cases and hospitalization trends at levels not seen since the winter.

State officials believe the vaccination effort this spring will ensure Minnesota doesn't relive the worst of the pandemic, but that doesn't mean the next few weeks will be easy.

The number of known, active cases has been trending upward over the past few weeks, with more than 17,000 as of Tuesday's report — marking more than three weeks with active daily counts above 10,000.

Hospitalizations have climbed significantly in the past weeks to levels not seen since January, and deaths tied to the disease are trending up, too. Health officials say coronavirus variants circulating in Minnesota are driving those increases.

The state Tuesday reported 676 people in Minnesota hospitals with COVID-19; 159 needed intensive care, hovering near the highest number of ICU patients since early January. While still low compared to late November and early December, the rising trend is notable given the worries over the rise of the highly contagious U.K. COVID-19 variant.

To date, the state has confirmed at least 1,600 cases of the U.K. strain. State epidemiologist Dr. Ruth Lynfield said last week the variant is linked to five deaths here and likely responsible for the majority of the spread happening now.

The state has recorded 545,404 total confirmed or probable cases so far in the pandemic, including 1,367 posted Tuesday. About 95% of Minnesotans known to be infected with COVID-19 in the pandemic have recovered to the point where they no longer need to be isolated.

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