COVID-19 Latest March 31

Few pedestrians walk along Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis on Monday, the first weekday of the state's stay-at-home order. (Christine T. Nguyen/MPR News)

Twelve people have died from COVID-19 in Minnesota, up from 10 reported on Monday, as the number of cases in the state since the pandemic began jumped to 629, state officials said.

Regionally, Le Sueur County continues to top the south central Minnesota list; it had 15 confirmed cases in Tuesday's report, up from 13 in Monday's report. Rice County has three confirmed cases; Steele County six; Nicollet County three; Waseca County three; Goodhue County three; Sibley County one; Blue Earth County nine; and Scott County 10.

Twenty-six people remain hospitalized in intensive care units; 288 people have recovered to the point where they no longer need to be isolated.

Minnesota officials continue to prepare for a surge of COVID-19 patients, scoping out sites that could become makeshift hospitals as the need for beds and intensive care units is expected to increase. The goal is to add 2,750 beds, with 1,000 of those in the Twin Cities metro area.

State officials are also working to secure masks and other protective gear for health workers, Gov. Tim Walz said Monday. Minnesota has enough medical equipment and supplies for now, he said, but state officials and health care providers are in a race against time.

“If the peak would hit us now, no, we do not have enough,” he said, noting the state’s efforts to buy more time for preparation.

Most of the coronavirus deaths in Minnesota were in group care facilities, which remain a primary concern. Jan Malcolm, the state health commissioner, said Monday that 31 such facilities now have at least one case of COVID-19 confirmed.

State officials on Monday also acknowledged Minnesota’s first cases of the virus spreading from hospitalized patients to health care workers. Of 157 health care workers testing positive for COVID-19, two came as the result of spread from patients, said Kris Ehresmann, the state’s infectious disease director.

Overall, Walz applauded Minnesotans for complying with his two-week, stay-at-home order, saying it and the state’s other efforts to stem the spread of the disease were working. “Minnesotans are doing this,” he said. “You’re getting it right.”


DWI arrests fall to historic lows as restaurants and bars remain closed

Minnesota officials say DWI arrests fell by more than half the first weekend after the state ordered bars and restaurants closed earlier this month. The state’s Office of Traffic Safety recorded 94 DWI arrests last weekend — compared with 293 over the same weekend last year.

State Patrol spokesperson Lt. Gordon Shank said the decline is welcome.

“Regardless we want this to be zero, and it’s unfortunate that people still make the bad decisions and we still want people to obviously heed the governor’s message and take it seriously, but also we want to make sure people are not risking not only their lives, but the lives of others,” Shank said.

MnDOT says traffic on Minnesota roads also fell by nearly two-thirds in the Twin Cities over the weekend compared to previous years.

— Tim Nelson | MPR News

No big concerns on 1st weekend of stay-home order

Officials say the first weekend of the state’s stay-at-home order went relatively smoothly.

State transportation officials said they saw a precipitous drop in traffic on the major highways over the weekend, down by nearly 60 percent in the Twin Cities and 55 percent statewide.

Minneapolis police said they found widespread compliance with the order, although they did have to disperse some gatherings on Friday night and Saturday. There weren’t any arrests or citations, and officers focused on education in their interactions, spokesperson John Elder said.

— Tim Nelson | MPR News

Case totals in neighboring states

North Dakota officials said Monday that a second person has died from complications of the coronavirus in the state. The victim is a woman in her 80s from north-central North Dakota.

On Monday, health authorities in North Dakota ordered a two-week quarantine for anyone entering the state from foreign countries or states where the coronavirus is widespread. The list includes 24 states, but not Minnesota or adjacent states. They're also asking anyone returning to North Dakota from any other state to voluntarily quarantine themselves.

North Dakota reported 19 people hospitalized for treatment of COVID-19 as of Monday. The state's first COVID-19 death is a former Minnesotan. An obituary says 93-year-old Roger Lehne died last Thursday at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Fargo. Lehne was formerly of Mahnomen, Minn.

As of Sunday, Wisconsin had more than double the number of Minnesota cases — 1,112, with 13 deaths. Wisconsin and Minnesota have tested roughly the same number of patients, according to state data.

Iowa reported 336 cases and four deaths. To the west, South Dakota reported 90 confirmed cases and one death as of Sunday.

— Tim Nelson and Dan Gunderson | MPR News

Assigning days for unemployment applications

The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development reported Sunday that it is processing a record number of unemployment insurance applications.

It's asking that new applicants follow a system to apply on a designated day, depending on the last digit of their Social Security number.

If the last digit is a 0, 1 or 2, applications should be filed on Mondays. For 3, 4 or 5 —- Tuesdays. 6, 7, 8 or 9 — Wednesdays. And Thursdays and Fridays remain open to any number.

— MPR News staff

Southern Minn newspaper group staff contributed to this article.

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