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Walz: Progress in curbing COVID in Minnesota long-term care

ST. PAUL  — Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz said Tuesday the state is making progress in stemming coronavirus infections in the state’s long-term care facilities.

Walz and state health officials cite a dramatic drop in deaths and new cases of COVID-19 at nursing homes and other facilities over the last two months. Residents of long-term care facilities still make up the majority of coronvirus-related deaths in Minnesota, but officials say their interventions since mid-May have led to a significant drop in daily deaths and outbreaks in congregate care settings.

“We are certainly not taking a victory lap,” Walz told reporters. “The key here was controlling infections.”

Officials scrambled to respond as deaths at long-term care facilities rose in late April and early May. Walz outlined a “battle plan” in early May that included expanded testing, more personal protective gear for health workers and ensuring “adequate” staffing levels when workers fall ill.

Officials said Tuesday those collective efforts have worked. In early May, there were 23 facilities reporting new cases each day. That number is now about six per day, Minnesota Public Radio News reported.

Of the 1,548 deaths recorded in Minnesota since the pandemic began, about 77% were residents of long-term care facilities, nearly all of whom had underlying health problems.

Minnesota reported three new deaths on Tuesday, including one in long-term care. Another 352 infections were confirmed, bringing Minnesota’s total to 47,457.