ROCHESTER, Minn. — In light of surging case numbers in the state, Minnesota health officials continue to debate the possibility of enacting new dialback restrictions.

"It has always been part of the discussions as we search for what is going to have the greatest effect," state Commissioner of Health Jan Malcolm said at a Friday afternoon, Nov. 6, news conference. "The governor is looking for strategies close to where the transmission is happening ... it's a very active conversation."

The transmission is happening statewide, however, and increasingly in outstate regions requiring creative testing campaigns in multiple modalities, from swab to saliva to mail-in options.

In a familiar appeal, Malcolm said residents retain control of their destiny when it comes to avoiding new restrictions by masking in public, staying home when sick and staying 6 feet away from others.

"If Minnesotans were following the guidance that exists, we wouldn't need further dialbacks," she said. "But we are and will continue to look at what policy tools will be effective as we face this challenge."

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That challenge was on full display by this election week's end, as the state recorded 5,454 cases of COVID-19, on 44,000 tests. The shocking case number pushed the statewide total over 170,000, shattering the previous one-day record by more than 1,000 cases in the process.

It was the fourth consecutive day of record new cases. The cases represented 16% seven-day case growth, a rate double the 8% growth rate for testing.

"This data," Malcolm said, "show us that finding more cases is not just a matter of testing more."

The state also recorded 36 deaths on Friday, a grim high-water mark for the state. Previously, the state recorded 35 deaths on both May 28 and Oct. 21. The state has recorded 2,563 COVID-19 deaths so far.

With 936 Minnesotans hospitalized with COVID-19, 212 in the ICU, and with staff shortages climbing, ICU availability is nearing capacity in the state, according to Malcolm. There were just 23 available ICU beds in the entire Twin Cities as of Thursday, Nov. 5.

While the state is recruiting medical reserve corps from retired clinicians and out of state resources, "the difficulty is that with COVID on the rise all over the country," Malcolm said, "some of that surge staff is spread thin nationally right now."

Almost 58% of the new cases Friday were recorded in greater Minnesota, with rural counties such as Carlton, Mille Lacs and Rice recording 44, 60 and 71 cases, respectively.

Central and northwestern Minnesota Friday reported unprecedented numbers as well: Clay County posted 82 cases, Benton County recorded 88, and Stearns County another 335 cases.

Leading the Twin Cities area, Anoka County in the northern metro recorded 397 cases, Ramsey County 430 cases and Hennepin County 839 cases.

Of the day's 36 deaths, 23 — or nearly two-thirds — were recorded in greater Minnesota.

The age of the deceased included three persons in their 40s. Twenty-three of the deceased were residents of long-term care.

At this time 1,962,772 Minnesotans have been tested for COVID-19.

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  • Minnesota Department of Health COVID-19 hotline: 651-201-3920.
  • COVID-19 discrimination hotline: 833-454-0148
  • Minnesota Department of Health COVID-19 website: Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) website.