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The Free Press and MPR News

MANKATO — There were 31 new positive COVID-19 cases reported Wednesday in the nine-county area and no additional deaths.

Minnesota’s latest COVID-19 data, however, continues to show the state’s numbers headed in the wrong direction.

The health department Wednesday reported more than 1,200 newly confirmed cases, extending more than a weeklong trend of newly confirmed cases averaging more than 1,000 a day. Hospitalizations are also trending higher. The daily death count of 29 was the highest in months.

The positive test rate trend remains above 5%, the threshold where officials become concerned.

Following are the number of new cases in the south-central region’s counties:

• Blue Earth — 6

• Brown — 0

• Faribault — 2

• Le Sueur — 3

• Martin — 7

• Nicollet — 7

• Sibley — 2

• Waseca — 3

• Watonwan — 1

Officials on Wednesday unveiled new changes to the way they report data on cases and deaths. They’ve begun reporting the results of antigen tests, a more rapid form of COVID-19 test, along with the results from the more traditional COVID-19 test known by its initials PCR.

The health department said it made the move so its reporting would align with federal guidance. Antigen testing had been relatively small prior to this, so the change to previous case counts won’t be dramatic.

The state, though, is now adding to the COVID-19 death toll people who died after having had COVID-19 confirmed by an antigen (rapid) test but not a PCR test. That adds six people to the state’s death toll — on top of 23 newly reported deaths.

Even without the statistical tweak, it was still the highest number of daily deaths reported since mid-June. The jump in follows similar spikes Wisconsin, which reported 34 deaths in its Tuesday report. North Dakota set a new record for daily deaths last week at 24.

Wednesday’s deaths raised Minnesota’s toll to 2,180. Among those who’ve died, about 70 percent had been living in long-term care or assisted living facilities; most had underlying health problems.

The 1,254 newly confirmed COVID-19 cases reported Wednesday brought the total in the pandemic to 115,943 cases to date; about 90 percent have recovered to the point they no longer need to be isolated.

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