ST. PAUL, Minn. (KTTC) -- Staggering news Friday: Minnesota is seeing its largest single day increase of COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic. This record breaking number hit on the same day as the U.S. surpasses 8 million cases.
The state's case total jumped by nearly 2,300. 68 of those cases are in Olmsted County. The leap in cases is making health officials uneasy.
"I'm very saddened and I'm deeply worried about today's number, but I'm frankly not surprised," Minnesota Health Department Commissioner Jan Malcolm said.
The surge comes as surrounding neighboring states like Iowa, Wisconsin and the Dakotas continue to experience some of the worst per-capita transmission rates in the country.
"Some have taken comfort that we are not growing like as quickly as our neighbor states," Malcolm said. "But we just can't assume that it is going to last. Frankly, our numbers are looking similar in most recent days."
Officials say community spread is at an all time high and is now impacting the state's response. Hennepin Healthcare CEO Jennifer DeCubellis says "most" hospital systems across the state have had to decrease bed capacity due to staff shortages -- from either infections or exposure to the virus.
"Please consider this as you make decisions about masking, socially distancing and gathering in large groups. You may just be reducing the likelihood that someone can care for you if you get sick," Minnesota Department of Health Infectious Disease Division Director Kris Ehresmann said.
Despite this harsh reality check, Malcolm believes the current trend can be turned around.
"We're at a pivotal point. We really need to take action now. Each of us," Malcolm said. "You may think I'm just one person what difference does it make what I do. But if everyone does their part we really can shift the course into a more positive direction for Minnesota."
Gov. Tim Walz announced this week that more saliva testing sites are opening up across the state, including on in Winona, which opened Wednesday.