MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Gov. Tim Walz said Wednesday the state has struck a deal with the University of Minnesota and the Mayo Clinic to test as many as 20,000 people per day for the coronavirus.
Walz called the agreement a “breakthrough” for rapid and widespread testing for COVID-19, which is seen as a key across the country for reopening businesses amid the coronavirus pandemic. He said it meant every person with symptoms of the coronavirus gets tested.
Wednesday’s announcement went well beyond Walz’s stated goal earlier this month of 5,000 tests per day. It didn’t include a timetable for ramping up to the 20,000 tests daily; Walz was due to talk about the agreement in an afternoon briefing.
Walz has Minnesota under a stay-at-home order that currently runs through May 4. He has come under increasing criticism from Republicans, and pleas from many business owners, to allow more businesses to reopen soon.
Earlier Wednesday, the Minnesota Department of Health reported that COVID-19 has killed 19 more Minnesotans, marking the largest one-day death toll since the pandemic reached the state.
The 19 new deaths raised the state’s total to 179. The department also reported 154 new confirmed cases, a big one-day jump that raised the state’s total to 2,721. Health officials have cautioned that the real number of Minnesotans infected with the coronavirus is likely much higher because most people don’t qualify for testing, and studies suggest people can be infected without feeling sick.
The department also said 240 Minnesotans were hospitalized with the disease as of Wednesday, up three from Tuesday, while 107 were in intensive care, down 10 from Tuesday. Another 1,317 patients have recovered and no longer need isolation.