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State officials urge vigilance to stop COVID-19 spread

ST. PAUL — Minnesota health officials reported a decrease in the number of new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, but urged residents to stay vigilant in their efforts to stop the virus’ spread by continuing to wear masks, practice social distancing and avoid large crowds.

Officials also expressed worry about an increase in cases tied to long-term care facilities, saying the new cases seem to come as staff members have relaxed precautions and started attending large events such as parties, church gatherings or weddings.

“This is fragile and we are very concerned that the progress we have made can be at risk, and can even be lost, if we let up on our precautions,” said Dr. Ruth Lynfield, state epidemiologist. “We need everyone in Minnesota to be doing their part to limit transmission. We are all connected to each other.”

Minnesota reported 556 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, and there were four new deaths, including two in long-term or group residential settings.

Minnesota has seen a total of cases 59,185 lab-confirmed cases of the virus, and 1,640 deaths. Most of those deaths, 1,241, were among residents of long-term care or assisted living facilities.

As of Friday, 300 people were in the hospital, and 155 were in intensive care.

While the number of new cases dropped from the more than 800 cases reported a day earlier, health officials said some counties, including St. Louis, McLeod and Blue Earth counties, were seeing growth.

The state’s seven-day average positivity rate is 5.3%, up from 4.9% a week ago.