ROCHESTER, Minn. -- The COVID-19 outbreak remained inexplicable on Saturday, June 20.
As Minnesota enters a late-June window once projected as a potential onset point for peak pressure on the health care system, cases remained sizable but half their daily average of 30 days ago.
The data are even more striking given the consistently high numbers of daily tests conducted in the state, the ongoing availability of testing for asymptomatic people in some regions, and the end of the 21 day-incubation period for those who attended days of mass gatherings following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody on May 25.
Were those events to have triggered a new outbreak, with health officials having offered four days of free testing clinics in the community, that spike should have been reflected in daily numbers by this point. Instead, the Minnesota Department of Health reported 438 new cases of COVID-19 on over 16,000 tests Saturday.
By comparison, the state was identifying twice as many cases daily just one month ago on half as many tests.
The new cases Saturday were widely distributed across the state, with 44 counties reporting cases.
An outbreak in Mower County continues, with the small southern border county posting another 29 cases. In an attempt to get ahead of the outbreak, state and local health officials are holding a community testing event Saturday and Sunday from 11 am to 6 pm at the Mower County Fairgrounds in Austin. Residents do not have to have symptoms to be tested but are encouraged to make reservations online.
In another elevated new cases report, Blue Earth County, home to Mankato, reported 17 new cases Saturday.
State health systems processed 16,815 tests Saturday. With the state having now processed 492,043 tests, Sunday will mark the state reaching another milestone, a half million tests provided, or enough for almost 10% of the population.
The health department reported 12 deaths from COVID-19 on Sunday, bringing the statewide death total from the illness to 1,372. One death each was reported in Washington and Renville counties, two in Ramsey County, three in Anoka County, and five in Hennepin County. Nine of the 12 deaths were among residents of long term care, with one a resident of a shelter.
As the state enters a week once expected to be the peak demand on the health care system by the illness, ICU use for COVID-19 dropped another seven beds to 161, the lowest total since May 3.
Patients hospitalized in non-ICU settings for COVID-19 also dropped Saturday. At 163 beds, that number is its lowest in 60 days.
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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.