ST. PAUL — The number of Minnesotans who perished from the coronavirus in a single day has reached its lowest point since April.

The Minnesota Department of Health on Monday, June 22, reported four additional deaths from COVID-19, bringing the total of Minnesotans killed by the virus and its complications to 1,384. And 308 more people tested positive for COVID-19, bring the number of people who've been confirmed to have the illness to 33,227.

The last time the department reported four or fewer patients had died from the illness was April 13. There were no reported fatalities from the disease that day.

“This is certainly an encouraging trend,” Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said, noting broader testing and a better understanding of the illness have helped health officials combat COVID-19.

More than 15,000 people in the Twin Cities metro area were tested following their participation in protests following the killing of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police, Malcolm said, and 2% tested positive for the illness.

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The Minnesotans who died from the illness were adults in age groups ranging from 60 to 89 and they lived in Anoka, Dakota, Olmsted and Ramsey counties. Two resided in long-term care communities and the other two lived in private residences.

Also Monday, the number of Minnesotans requiring intensive care to combat the coronavirus dropped to the lowest one-day total in seven weeks, according to state data.

The department reported that 332 people were hospitalized due to COVID-19, with 156 requiring intensive care. The number of Minnesotans requiring hospitalization and intensive care pushed upward through May and early June but has trended downward this month.

The last time the state saw a comparable number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care was May 3, when the state reported 155 people were hospitalized and required additional resources to fight off the disease.

Another 402 people who'd tested positive for COVID-19 reached the point of no longer being required to isolate.

Health officials on Monday also urged Minnesotans to continue seeking emergency care if they need it and encouraged parents to keep their children up to date on vaccinations, despite the pandemic. They noted that physicians in both settings are still treating patients and precautions are being taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

State Infectious Disease Director Kris Ehresmann said the drop in emergency room admissions for heart attacks, strokes and hyperglycemic crises, have dropped significantly following the COVID-19 peacetime emergency and that likely stemmed from people being unable to access care or feeling uncomfortable seeking it out. And she encouraged Minnesotans to continue seeking emergency care as needed.

"We're not seeing this reduction like we saw with influenza because like everyone was isolating at home and that really made a difference in the spread of that infection," Ehresmann said. "For these diseases, we would not expect to see this kind of a decline in that rapid of a time period."

Officials also urged Minnesotans to continue keeping up preventative behaviors like wearing masks, social distancing and frequently washing hands despite "caution fatigue."

"All of these messages about the need for social distancing and mask-wearing and hand washing isn't only about the risk to us as individuals, but it's about our ability, our potential to infect other people with the results of our behavioral choices," Malcolm said.

Ehresmann also said not taking precautions against the illness could force state leaders to again limit businesses and social gatherings later on.

A group of local chambers of commerce, trade organizations and the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce on Monday renewed their call to Gov. Tim Walz to further roll back restrictions on businesses, allowing them to more fully reopen. They said many businesses were on the brink of closing for good without additional help.

“We’ve worked with businesses throughout the entire COVID-19 crisis to take the necessary health and safety steps in their workplaces. They are taking these precautions to mitigate the spread and help boost employee and consumer confidence,” Minnesota Chamber of Commerce President Doug Loon said in a news release. “But these steps are taken in vain if these businesses aren’t allowed to welcome back employees and customers.”

The group had set a Friday target to bring businesses back online at full capacity with additional health precautions in place but the governor said the state was not yet in a place to do that safely.

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