Most of Minnesota’s COVID-19 fatalities also fought other chronic illnesses. Here are the details.

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ST. PAUL (Pioneer Press) – Most of the more than 1,000 Minnesotans who’ve died from COVID-19 over the past two months were already fighting serious illnesses before they were infected with the coronavirus.

 

Kris Ehresmann, director of the Minnesota Department of Health infectious disease division, said Thursday that about 97 percent of those who died had underlying health conditions that put them at higher risk of a serious COVID-19 infections.

A Pioneer Press review of more than 850 death records — all those available by Wednesday — found lung, heart and neurological diseases were the most common aliments that patients also were struggling with when they died. Kidney disease and diabetes were also often noted by doctors and pathologists who recorded patients’ deaths.

The oldest Minnesotan to die of COVID-19 was 104 years old and the youngest was 30, state death records show.

The average age of the Minnesotans who’ve died from COVID-19 is 82. Patients in their 80s are the hardest-hit group, representing 337 of the state’s COVID-19 fatalities.

More than 80 percent of all of those who have died were residents of congregate care facilities such as nursing homes, assisted living and rehabilitation centers.

But that doesn’t mean everyone who died from COVID-19 in Minnesota was older or already sick. State health officials have noted at least a half-dozen cases of patients in their 30s and 40s without pre-existing conditions who succumbed to the disease.

The median age of Minnesota’s known coronavirus infections is 42.

“I know there is a common perception that this is an illness that only affects the elderly, but that is certainly not the case,” said Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm.

“While risk is certainly elevated for the elderly and those with underlying health conditions, especially the combination of the two, we do see severe disease and even death among younger people,” Malcolm said. “Occasionally some (deaths are) without any known pre-existing conditions.”

A GROWING NUMBER OF FATALITIES

State records show Minnesota’s first confirmed COVID-19 death was 88-year-old Mariano Luningning who died March 19 at Mercy Hospital Unity Campus in Fridley. Her death was publicly reported by the Department of Health on March 21.

Luningning was a native of the Philippines who lived in St. Anthony. She suffered from several pre-existing medical conditions common in the elderly.

Luningning reportedly contracted the coronavirus from another person with a known infection. She tested positive March 13, was hospitalized March 16 and died three days later on a Thursday morning at 10:20 a.m.

At the time of Luningning’s death, Minnesota had fewer than 100 laboratory-confirmed coronavirus infections.

The state had 24,190 confirmed cases of the coronavirus Saturday and has seen the number of daily deaths rise steadily over the past two months, reaching 1,026 on Saturday. Minnesota’s COVID-19 death rate stands at 4.24 percent of those with confirmed infections.

The record high for daily fatalities was the 35 reported Thursday. That replaced a previous daily record number of fatalities of 33 set less than a week before.

Fatalities have not risen as fast as state officials worried they could. A statistical model used by the state Department of Health projected Minnesota could have as many as 1,400 COVID-19 deaths by the end of May and close to 30,000 deaths by the end of the pandemic.

Health officials have defended those projections, saying they’re made with incomplete and changing information about the state’s outbreak.

WHERE THEY DIED

More than 500 of Minnesota’s COVID-19 fatalities died in nursing homes and assisted living facilities, state death records show. Another 290 patients died in hospitals, with 11 of them occurring in emergency rooms.

Forty-seven people have died at home.

State health officials have faced criticism for the toll the coronavirus has taken on Minnesota’s congregate care facilities. More than 800 of the state’s deaths have been long-term care residents.

There are close to 250 long-term care centers with coronavirus outbreaks — characterized as at least one confirmed infection among residents or staff. The state has only released the names of facilities with 10 or more residents to protect patient privacy.

In early May, state leaders announced a triage plan to try to control the spread of infection at long-term care facilities. It includes testing of all residents and staff, increased availability of protective equipment and state help with staffing shortages.

State officials continue to face criticism for returning COVID-19 patients who no longer need hospital care back to their congregate care facilities. Health officials say this policy is being reviewed but is intended to maintain adequate hospital capacity for the sickest patients.

A FRACTION OF ALL DEATHS

Each year, about 44,000 Minnesotans die for a wide variety of reasons. In 2018, the latest year for which summary data is available, cancer and heart disease were the leading causes of death, accounting for about 10,000 and 8,000 deaths respectively.

So far in 2020, more than 19,000 Minnesotans have died. That makes COVID-19 responsible for about 5 percent of all deaths in the state this year.

In contrast, influenza and pneumonia killed about 700 Minnesotans in 2018. Chronic lung diseases and emphysema killed nearly 2,500 Minnesotans that year.


https://www.msn.com/en-us/health/medical/most-of-minnesotas-covid-19-fatalities-also-fought-other-chronic-illnesses-here-are-the-details/ar-BB14PNSM

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