Minnesota lawmakers ready COVID-19 relief; deaths rise to 79

MINNEAPOLIS  — Minnesota lawmakers prepared Tuesday to pass a COVID-19 relief bill on a day when health officials reported nine more deaths due to the coronavirus.

The Minnesota Department of Health reported that the nine new deaths raised the state’s total to 79. The department also reported 45 new confirmed cases to increase Minnesota’s total to 1,695.

As of Tuesday, 177 people were hospitalized, up 20 patients from Monday, including 75 in intensive care, one more than Monday. But 909 patients have recovered and no longer need isolation.

Health officials caution that the state’s total of actual cases is likely much higher because most patients don’t qualify for testing. The state health lab and private labs had run 39,241 tests in Minnesota as of Tuesday.

The Minnesota House and Senate will meet Tuesday to approve a grab bag of policy measures to address the pandemic. Among the highlights are provisions that will: allow engaged couples to obtain marriage licenses online or by mail; make it easier for health care providers to use telemedicine; cover some testing costs; extend various deadlines and expiration dates; and codify temporary rules under which lawmakers can vote remotely and state agencies can exercise emergency powers.