Minnesota recorded its second death from coronavirus Thursday, March 26. The individual was a resident of Ramsey County in their 80s.

"We want to express our sincere sorrow about this and offer our condolences to the family of the person who died," said state Commissioner of Health Jan Malcolm in an afternoon call with reporters, Gov. Tim Walz and other state officials. "It's close to our home and to our hearts."

"As much as it hurts to say this," Malcolm later said, "we know we will be reporting more deaths in the days to come."

On Wednesday, Walz issued an executive order that all non-exempt Minnesotans are to stay at home except for essential services for at least two weeks.

"I recognize that the last 24 hours have been stressful for Minnesota," said Walz on Thursday. "This was put in place to slow transmissions and buy us some time. We're looking for Minnesotans to stay home and break the chain of infection for a short time."

Also, Thursday, Minnesota lawmakers approved a $330 million COVID-19 emergency response bill, which included funding for child care providers, homeless shelters and food banks.

The proposal will bump back deadlines for renewing expired driver’s licenses, help house homeless individuals in hotels or motels temporarily if they’ve been exposed to the illness caused by the coronavirus or have respiratory conditions and provide each tribal nation in the state $1 million.

Lawmakers returned to the Capitol after recessing last week and moving to closed working group meetings in the House and conversations between committee chairs and the majority leader in the Senate.

North Dakota

North Dakota has 13 new confirmed cases of COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus.

Gov. Doug Burgum said at a press conference on Thursday, March 26, that the state has 58 confirmed cases of COVID-19, up from 45 on Wednesday.

“This is our biggest increase yet,” he said, noting that 11 people have been hospitalized with the illness in North Dakota.

One of the new cases was a child in McIntosh County, according to the North Dakota Department of Health. On March 18, the state confirmed the virus in a Morton County girl aged 10-19.

Burgum said it is assumed that the numbers of positive cases will continue to rise in the state in the coming days. “It doesn’t matter whether or not there’s zero positives reported in a county,” the governor said. “By the end of the week, we will assume with the rate of spread that we will have positive cases in every county.”

Burgum said one concern is not having enough medical supplies, but promised the state is “working around the clock” to meet the challenges.

So far, 2,261 people have been tested in North Dakota; 2,203 tests have come back negative.

South Dakota

South Dakota’s two biggest clusters of cases are in the Huron and Sioux Falls areas, where the virus is known to be moving through the community undetected.

On Thursday, March 26, the state's confirmed cases rose by five, to a total of 46.

Beadle County, home to Huron, added one case for a total of 13. The counties that contain Sioux Falls added three additional cases for a total of 16, two in Minnehaha County and one in Lincoln County, state officials said in a briefing just after noon.

Of the state's total cases, 16 individuals have recovered, said Gov. Kristi Noem. Two or three individuals are in the hospital, said Kim Malsam-Rysdon, secretary of the state Department of Health.

Asked about President Donald Trump's goal of getting the nation "opened up and just raring to go by Easter," Noem threw in doubt the likelihood that would happen in South Dakota.

"I do not think South Dakota will be back to normal for many months, many months," she said. "This is a long-term situation we have in front of us today.”

South Dakota's supply of hospital beds and ventilators — medical machines used to help patients breathe — is in good shape, state officials say.

Wisconsin

The Bayfield County Health Department has identified a second case of COVID-19 and the first case of community spread in Bayfield County.

The lab-confirmed positive case announced Thursday, March 26, is a person who did not have a history of travel or contact with a known positive case of COVID-19, according to a news release.

“This report provides even more reason to take Gov. Tony Evers’ stay-at-home order seriously,” said Sara Wartman, public health officer for Bayfield County. “We fully expect to see additional cases of the virus in the county but hope that our outreach and guidance is helping to convince county residents to stay home to disrupt the spread of the virus.”

As of Thursday, Wisconsin had 707 confirmed cases of COVID-19, but the latest numbers from the state Department of Health Services did not include the latest case in Bayfield County. So far, eight people have died from the illness in Wisconsin.

Around the region

  • South Dakota unemployment claims soared nearly 900% last week, as attempts to limit the spread of coronavirus clobbered the state's economy. The state's jobless data showed a total of 1,703 new filings for unemployment benefits the week of March 15-21. New filings in previous weeks hovered at about 200 per week.
  • Gun permit applications surged in St. Paul this month after Gov. Tim Walz announced emergency measures to control the spread of coronavirus, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported. During the week of March 16, as schools closed and group gatherings curtailed, city police received 153 applications to buy a handgun. That’s roughly six times the weekly average from the first two months of the year.
  • The deadline for states to comply with federal REAL ID requirements will be extended because of COVID-19, according to the Department of Homeland Security.
  • Some Minnesota distilleries have switched from being whiskey and vodka makers to becoming full-fledged hand sanitizer production sites. Communities are turning to distilleries for their ability to produce high-content alcohol products at a time when traditional commercial-brand hand sanitizers have been all but wiped out from store shelves.
  • U.S. Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., returned to South Dakota late Wednesday, March 25, after falling ill in Washington, D.C., earlier in the day, according to the senator's office. Out of what his office described as "an abundance of caution," Thune returned to Sioux Falls after consulting with physicians in Washington and in South Dakota. The illness forced Thune, who serves as majority whip in the Senate, to miss votes on the $2 trillion stimulus package related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The United States now has the most reported coronavirus cases worldwide, at more than 82,400, according to media reports.

Around sports

  • The Indianapolis 500 won't run on Memorial Day weekend for the first time since 1946. On Thursday, officials postponed the 104th edition of the race from May 24 to Aug. 23 because of the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Major League Baseball plans to delay its annual draft at least one month to July. ESPN reported the draft is likely to be shortened with bonuses deferred because of uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus.
  • The "virtual" WNBA Draft will go on as scheduled April 17 with precautions in place to minimize health risks during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

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