Tracking coronavirus in Minnesota
Tens of thousands of cases of COVID-19, the infectious disease caused by the novel coronavirus, have been identified in Minnesota since the first confirmed case was reported March 6 in Ramsey County by the Minnesota Department of Health. The Star Tribune is tracking COVID-19 cases as announced by MDH. However, these figures should not be considered a full count of cases in Minnesota as health officials say they believe the virus is circulating in communities throughout the state. Some figures reported by MDH may change as it completes investigations of individual cases.
This tracker will be updated as new information becomes available, generally once daily in the late morning, though it may lag behind news reports due to the release of incomplete information. Check startribune.com/coronavirus for the latest news. Sign up for our daily newsletter with the latest on COVID-19 in Minnesota at startribune.com/updates.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are COVID-19 tests widely available? Who is being tested?
Due to a nationwide shortage of COVID-19 testing supplies, MDH announced March 17 that the state's public health lab would prioritize testing for health care workers, child care providers and residents of congregate living facilities, which include senior care and assisted living centers, as well as emergency and homeless shelters. As a result, people experiencing milder symptoms were not being tested.
On April 22, Gov. Tim Walz announced a new statewide testing strategy, using the University of Minnesota, Mayo Clinic and other state health care providers to increase COVID-19 diagnostic testing in the state to as many as 20,000 Minnesotans per day. State officials said they expect to have the capacity to test anyone who has symptoms of COVID-19.
Does the data include rapid antigen tests?
Yes. On Oct. 14, Minnesota Department of Health began reporting positive rapid COVID-19 antigen test results as "probable cases," in addition to "confirmed cases" identified by laboratory testing. Between Sept. 1 and Oct. 14, MDH reported a total of 180 positive rapid antigen tests, as well as six additional deaths in which the patient had a positive antigen test, but did not receive additional laboratory testing. "Total cases" in the charts above includes both confirmed and probable cases.
Why are some confirmed cases later removed?
Minnesota Department of Health began reporting "cases removed" in its daily update on May 13. According to MDH, a previously announced confirmed case may be removed if the case investigation finds a patient who sought care in Minnesota actually resides in another state, or a confirmed case is determined to be a false positive or a duplicate record.
Why did some charts change on May 14?
On May 13, Minnesota Department of Health made several revisions to its COVID-19 data. First, it updated how it reports confirmed cases on its website. Prior to May 13, confirmed cases were listed on the date they were reported to the public, typically the day after lab results were reported to MDH. Now, all confirmed cases are listed on the date when the test sample was taken. We have updated our charts to include cases by sample date in addition to the date reported. In the chart by sample date, this means that counts for previous days may change as new test results come in and counts for recent days may appear low while some test results are still pending.
MDH also changed how it reports completed tests, by listing them on the date laboratories reported them to MDH. For consistency, we are continuing to list completed tests on the date they were reported to the public by MDH. As a result, completed test figures are listed on our chart one day later than what is reported on MDH's website.
Finally, MDH corrected the double-counting of some previous test results, which changed the test counts and positive test rates for April 27 through May 5. We have removed the errant data.
Why were some charts removed on June 5 and then changed on June 18?
On June 5, MDH noted for the first time testing counts until that point reflected the number of people tested, but going forward it was changing that methodology to reflect all tests administered. This change accounts for people who are tested multiple times, showing the number of tests rather than the number of unique people tested. Unfortunately, under the new methodology, data was unavailable for the early part of March when the pandemic first took hold in Minnesota. We removed a few charts during that time to sort out how to move forward. On June 18, we put the charts back up using MDH's new methodology, without data before March 28. We are working to get more complete data.
Why are some charts missing data on July 4?
MDH did not update its situation page on July 4, due to the holiday. Certain metrics were not available including deaths, hospitalizations and reported cases
Why did you remove the "Recovered/No longer needing isolation" chart?
The Minnesota Department of Health has repeatedly changed its definition of what is included in the "patients no longer needing isolation" figure it releases each day. Initially, it was understood to include confirmed COVID-19 patients who were no longer required to self-isolate according to MDH guidelines. In early May, MDH announced that the figure also included COVID-19 patients who died, and a data table that displayed these figures over time was removed from its website. Health officials said May 18 that the figure would no longer include deaths and the cumulative total decreased substantially. As a result, we no longer have enough confidence in the reliability of the data in that chart to include it in our tracker. The "patients no longer needing isolation" figure continues to be updated daily on the MDH website.
Why did you change your data source for national totals?
Our source for Minnesota data remains the Minnesota Department of Health, but since May 21, our national figures for cases and deaths have been provided by the New York Times.
The change shows a jump of nearly 6,000 additional deaths and 17,000 additional cases. The primary reason for this is that the New York Times data includes probable deaths and cases. The Star Tribune’s former source, the COVID Tracking Project, does not yet include probable deaths, and it is unclear how soon they will start.
The Minnesota Department of Health does not include probable deaths and cases in its daily counts, but does report probable deaths separately each week. We continue to use data from Johns Hopkins University, which also includes probables, to report international cases. We continue to use the COVID Tracking Project as a source for some metrics, like testing, that the New York Times does not track.
Why are you no longer displaying cases of community transmission?
State health officials have identified cases of community transmission, in which an infection is not tied to travel or to contact with another known case of COVID-19, in at least three dozen counties in Minnesota. Health officials say the statistic is no longer meaningful because they believe the virus is circulating statewide and all counties should be presumed to have instances of community transmission.
Why aren't you displaying "active" cases?
MDH does not attempt to calculate active cases – or COVID-19 patients who have not yet recovered or died – as the figures the department releases only represent those who were tested. A chart that included active cases was removed from this tracker because the calculation was incorrect.
Where can I find information about neighboring states?
Correction: Previous versions of this article listed a University of Minnesota Twin Cities student who tested positive for coronavirus as a Hennepin County resident. It is unclear which county the student resides in. Additionally, a chart that displayed "active" COVID-19 cases was removed from this tracker because the calculation was incorrect.