COVID-19 testing drive thru

The first COVID-19 attributed death in Steele County has been confirmed by the Minnesota Department of Health. Current numbers for confirmed cases in Steele County is 223, with 173 of those cases no longer in isolation and deemed healthy. (Annie Granlund/People’s Press)

The first death in Steele County attributed to COVID-19 has been confirmed, according to a Thursday morning press release. The Minnesota Department of Health notified Steele County Public Health Director Amy Caron with the confirmation.

“Our sincere condolences go out to the family during this time,” Caron said. “We hope that someday a vaccine will be created to help combat this virus, so others do not have to suffer.”

According to MDH, the deceased from Steele County was in the 80 to 89 age group. Of the 13 newly reported deaths in the state, eight were in an assisted living/long-term care facility, though it is not clear at this time whether the death in Steele County came from a congregate care setting.

Steele County currently has four facilities that have been identified by MDH to have been exposed to COVID-19, Medford Senior Care, Prairie Manor Care Center in Blooming Prairie, Timberdale Trace in Owatonna, and Valleyview Assisted Living in Owatonna. Exposure is defined as a person diagnosed with COVID-19 who either visited, worked, or lived at a congregate care facility while they were contagious.

Representatives from Prairie Manor and Valleyview have confirmed that the Steele County death was not one of their residents. Both Medford Senior Care and Timberdale have declined to comment for this story.

The current cumulative positive cases of COVID-19 in Steele County is 223 people. Approximately 173 of those cases are out of isolation and deemed healthy at this time. The ages of positive cases range from 1-year-old to in the 70s. Caron said there are currently two Steele County residents that are hospitalized due to COVID-19, needing extra care to assist them with the symptoms of the virus.

The virus that causes COVID-19 is spread primarily by respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It can also spread when people touch surfaces that have been contaminated by an infected person and then touch their eyes, nose or mouth.

Minnesota’s COVID-19 toll continued to rise Thursday with 13 more deaths and 500 new cases reported, but trends in intensive care cases still suggest a hopeful, downward trend.

The newest deaths brought the total to 1,458 since the pandemic began. But the average daily count since mid-June remains in the single digits.

The count of people currently hospitalized rose to 274, but the number needing intensive care dipped to 123. The daily ICU count is the lowest its been since late April. Despite the jump in cases reported Thursday, overall hospitalizations have trended downward over the past few weeks.

Minnesota now has 37,210 positive tests for the disease during the outbreak. About 86 percent of those testing positive have recovered to the point they no longer need to be isolated.

Among those who’ve died in Minnesota, nearly 80 percent were living in long-term care or assisted living facilities, nearly all had underlying health problems.

Minnesota Public News Radio staff contributed to this story. Reach Reporter Annie Granlund at 507-444-2378 or follow her on Twitter @OPPAnnie. ©Copyright 2020 APG Media of Southern Minnesota.

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