MDH explains new change to COVID-19 positive case data

Brandi Powell
Updated: October 14, 2020 07:02 PM
Created: October 14, 2020 06:48 PM

There is a change in how the Minnesota Department of Health is reporting new cases of COVID-19 as of Wednesday.

MDH updated its COVID-19 situation update page to break down the total number of newly reported cases by confirmed and probable cases.


On Wednesday, MDH said there were 1,254 newly reported cases. Of those, 1,214 of those cases are confirmed. The other 40 are probable.

There have been more than 115,900 total positive cases in Minnesota. Of that total, 180 of those cases are probable.

MDH reports 29 new COVID-19 deaths, 1,214 newly reported cases

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS spoke with state health officials about why they've changed how they report cases.

MDH is utilizing this new, FDA-approved testing called antigen testing because it generates results more quickly and because providers don't have to have a full lab set up to get results.

As for those results, starting Wednesday, MDH is separating the results into two categories: probable cases, from the new antigen testing, and confirmed cases, from what it's been using for months, known as PCR tests, the gold standard.

MDH announced 29 new deaths today; 23 of those deaths have been confirmed via the PCR testing. The other six deaths have been confirmed with the new antigen testing. MDH said Minnesota has not reached its peak with COVID-19 numbers.

"As the cases increase, the deaths will also be increasing, and so what we are seeing with the deaths, although it's distressing, it's not surprising, because we've been watching our case numbers go up for some time," Kris Ehresmann, Director of the MDH Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Prevention, and Control Division, said.

MDH said there are disadvantages to the new antigen testing. It's not as reliable. And, it only works if you have symptoms.

KSTP's Medical Expert Dr. Archelle Georgio said, "They're accurate if they're positive. They're not necessarily accurate if they're negative, so if someone is antigen-positive, they have COVID-19. The antigen test has never been designed or tested for its accuracy on individuals that are not symptomatic." 

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS also asked MDH about the increase in hospital bed occupancy rate. Ehresmann said only a small portion are COVID-19 patients. She added it is a reasonable explanation that it's in part because of procedures and critical care that might've been delayed from earlier in the year due to COVID-19 concerns. But, Ehresmann said she cannot comment on whether a second cause could potentially be due to an increase in mental health cases. 

Regarding COVID-19 cases from large gatherings, MDH said a total of 16 people tested positive for coronavirus from President Donald Trump's Bemidji rally, describing it as an event as a likely source of exposure.

Copyright 2020 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

Comment on Facebook

US attorney: 60 charged in $300M phone scam targeting elderly victims

COVID-19 in Wisconsin: 45 new deaths, 3,815 new cases

Former governors Dayton, Pawlenty, Ventura join Walz in election PSA

UPDATE: Stock rout deepens as S&P 500 drops 2.7%, Dow falls 770

President Trump to campaign in Rochester on Friday

MDH: 19 new COVID-19 deaths, 1,916 new cases in latest report