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The Free Press and MPR News

MANKATO — Residents in Blue Earth, Nicollet and Le Sueur counties were among 67 newly confirmed COVID-19 deaths statewide Wednesday, a new single-day record during the pandemic.

The deaths occurred in a Blue Earth County resident in their mid to late 80s, a Nicollet County resident in their mid to late 70s and a Le Sueur County resident in their mid to late 90s, according to the Minnesota Department of Health.

South-central Minnesota counties have now combined for 85 confirmed COVID deaths since the pandemic began.

Of the 85 deaths, 16 have been confirmed in November so far. It took only 18 days for November to match September as the nine-county region’s deadliest month.

The 67 deaths statewide raised Minnesota’s pandemic death toll to 3,010, according to the health department. Along with the new record for COVID deaths statewide, caseloads and hospitalizations continued largely unabated Wednesday.

The health department tallied another 5,102 newly confirmed or probable cases.

Hospitalizations continue to climb steeply, with the seven-day new admissions trend hitting a record. About 1,700 people are in Minnesota hospitals now because of COVID-19 with 355 needing intensive care, according to the latest update.

The number of hospital patients has grown by more than 30% in the last week.

Area counties also combined for 172 new cases. The full list of new cases in area counties includes:

• Blue Earth County — 35

• Brown County — 30

• Le Sueur County — 22

• Sibley County — 1

• Waseca County — 17

• Nicollet County — 16

• Martin County — 14

• Faribault County — 10

• Watonwan County — 9

The latest numbers came on the same day Mayo Clinic Health System in Mankato announced a partnership with Minnesota State University to test Maverick hockey student-athletes as well as symptomatic students.

Mayo in Mankato began testing hockey players in recent weeks so they could return to practice, according to a news release. Local testing and lab work ensure results come back within about 24 hours.

As for testing symptomatic students on campus, student health services will collect the specimens and Mayo Clinic Laboratories will process the tests.

“We are excited to be partnering with Minnesota State Mankato to ensure quick and easy access to COVID-19 testing for not only the hockey team, but all students on campus,” stated James Hebl, Mayo Clinic Health System’s southwest Minnesota regional vice president. “We are proud of our partnership with MSU and the many ways we’ve collaborated with colleges and businesses across the region during this challenging and difficult time.”

The partnership also resulted in the addition of a surgical suite in MSU’s campus simulation center for the health system to use for trainings.

“We’re pleased to be working with a world leader like Mayo Clinic Health System on COVID-19 testing as well as in training and educational areas across the university,” stated MSU President Richard Davenport in the release. “Minnesota State Mankato’s partnership with Mayo Clinic Health System is vitally important in providing health care to our current students as well as educating the future medical professionals in our local community and beyond.”

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