State officials said Thursday that a second Minnesotan has died from COVID-19 and that the number of residents testing positive for the disease jumped to 346, from 287 on Wednesday.
The second death involved a resident of Ramsey County in their 80s, the Health Department said. Last week, officials announced the first death linked to the disease was also a Ramsey County resident in their 80s. That person had recently tested positive for COVID-19 and was a family member of an earlier confirmed case.
The total number of people hospitalized from the disease stood at 31, up from 26 Wednesday. The state said 12,950 tests have been completed.
Thursday’s updated numbers come a day after Gov. Tim Walz ordered Minnesotans to stay at home for two weeks, effective Saturday through April 10. Walz said the goal of the order wasn’t intended to lessen the number of COVID-19 infections in the state, but rather to help Minnesota push off and brace for the coronavirus’ inevitable peak.
Walz and state health officials are expected to brief reporters at 2 p.m. on the state’s ongoing efforts to curb the spread of the disease across the state.
Officials believe the number of COVID-19 cases is likely at least 10 times as high as the number of testing-confirmed cases and that an increasing number of people will likely require hospitalization in the weeks.
They remain especially concerned about the state’s ability to handle a surge of COVID-19 patients needing intensive care. The state had fewer than 250 intensive care beds open on Wednesday, Walz said, and officials need time to increase capacity.
"The thing that Minnesota is going to do is ensure if you need an ICU, it's there,” Walz told the state in a livestreamed address Wednesday.
Other goals of the order, Walz said, include increasing access to ventilators, other life-saving equipment, personal protective equipment for health workers and COVID-19 testing. He said officials must also make more plans for how to protect and care for populations most vulnerable to the coronavirus as it continues spreading.
Also under the order, on-site school closures last into early May. The state Education Department will be canceling the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments, or MCAs, for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year.
Nearly 80 percent of Minnesota jobs are considered essential under the order, said Steve Grove, the Department of Employment and Economic Development commissioner. A list of those jobs is available at a state website. Liquor stores are among businesses that will remain open.
Grove said he expected about 28 percent of working Minnesotans to be temporarily jobless during the extended stay-home period.