ROCHESTER, Minn. — The state of Minnesota reported 1,574 cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, Oct. 22.

The case numbers came on the heels of over 25,000 new tests recorded. The state has now tested over 1.7 million residents, or just under one-third of the population.

Nearly 60%, or over 900, of Thursday's 1,574 new cases were identified in greater Minnesota, which now has the fastest rate of case growth in the state. Clay County has 60 new cases as of Thursday, with Crow Wing County recording 28, Polk 29, Stearns 60 and St. Louis County 61.

The state recorded an additional 20 deaths from the illness on Thursday.

Isanti, Kandiyohi, Olmsted, Stearns and Wadena counties all reported single deaths; Benton, Rock and Mille Lacs counties each lost two residents, Ramsey County lost three residents to COVID-19 and Hennepin County saw an additional six deaths. Thirteen of the 20 deaths were among residents of long-term care.

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There are now 2,.301 deaths recorded in the state from COVID-19, with 1,730 or 75% of those having struck residents of the seven-county metro region. While greater Minnesota has seen just 25% of total deaths from COVID-19 thus far, those ratios are trending changing of late. Of the 55 deaths recorded on Wednesday and Thursday, 29, or over half, are from outside the metro area.

The health department also on Thursday rolled out an at-home saliva testing program for residents in 24 outlying counties, "geographically diverse areas of the state," including Rock, Kittson, Le Sueur, Beltrami, Red Lake Nation, Wilkin, Carver, Nobles, Wright, Dakota, Mower, Becker, Kandiyohi, Crow Wing, Cook, Aitkin, Steele, Itasca, Douglas, Lyon, Pine, Otter Tail, Swift and Pennington counties.

Minnesota currently has four "no barriers" walk-up saliva testing sites open, in Duluth, Winona, Moorhead, and Brooklyn Park, with Mankato scheduled to open Friday, Oct. 23, and up to five more to follow in coming weeks. Anyone can be tested for free, symptoms or not, insured or not.

“Minnesota’s testing strategy includes having multiple options for people seeking out testing,” said Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm in a statement.

“Having more options helps to remove barriers, ensuring all Minnesotans have access to quick and reliable testing. The continued increase in COVID-19 cases across Greater Minnesota, tied to small, everyday gatherings, is very concerning," Malcolm said. "Testing is one way we slow the spread of COVID-19, and the mail order program provides yet another method for Minnesotans to access testing.”

The mail order testing is free. For more information on the COVID-19 Test at Home program, and to order a test, visit COVID-19 Test at Home.

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  • Minnesota Department of Health COVID-19 hotline: 651-201-3920.
  • COVID-19 discrimination hotline: 833-454-0148
  • Minnesota Department of Health COVID-19 website: Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) website.