Corona virus

Samples are test for COVID-19 at the Minnesota Department of Health.

MANKATO — New COVID-19 cases confirmed in Le Sueur and Martin counties Wednesday brought south-central Minnesota’s known total to 25, up from 22 Tuesday.

The Minnesota Department of Health reported the state had 287 total confirmed positives as of Wednesday, rising from 262 the day before.

Martin County had two new cases and 10 total, compared to Le Sueur County’s one new case and six total.

Cases in Blue Earth, Nicollet and Waseca counties remained at five, three and one, respectively. Health officials say the number of confirmed positives is an underestimate of how widespread the illness is.

State Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said the state has been able to ramp up testing capacity. Testing constraints earlier in the pandemic hampered response efforts at the state and national levels.

“The lack of a really strong national testing approach early on in this epidemic was really a lost opportunity in terms of time,” Malcolm said during a media briefing Wednesday.

Gov. Tim Walz’s executive order calling for most Minnesotans to stay home for a two-week period beginning this weekend is meant to provide more time for the state’s health system to build testing, ICU bed and ventilator capacity.

More Minnesotans are being hospitalized due to the illness, with the health department adding 11 new COVID-19 hospitalizations Wednesday for a total of 26 statewide.

Another 122 patients who had COVID-19 no longer need to be isolated.

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