Ad Spot

As schools reopen in Minnesota, COVID-19 cases climb

By Catharine Richert and Elizabeth Shockman, Minnesota Public Radio News

State officials are warning of a growing number of COVID-19 cases in schools across the state.

As more districts open up for in-person instruction, state health officials say 752 Minnesota schools have confirmed COVID-19 cases as of this week.

Based on genomic sequencing of confirmed cases, state officials estimate that 50 percent of the COVID-19 cases in Minnesota right now are the so-called B.1.1.7 variant — a more contagious and, additional research suggests, a more severe version of the virus.

In a statement, state epidemiologist Dr. Ruth Lynfield said the Minnesota Department of Health is growing concerned by the increase in cases among school-aged children and teens.

Simultaneously, they’re seeing more hospitalizations.

“That’s why it is so important for all of us to keep doing those things that make a big difference: wear masks, keep social distancing, avoid large gatherings, adhere to other restrictions that are still in place, get tested, stay home if you’re ill or test positive, and roll up your sleeve and get vaccinated as soon as you can,” Lynfield said.

Over the weekend, University of Minnesota public health expert Michael Osterholm said on “Meet the Press” that what Minnesota is seeing with circulation of the B.1.1.7 variant stands to shift the push to reopen schools.

“Right here in Minnesota we’re now seeing the other aspect of this B.1.1.7 variant that hasn’t been talked much about,” he said. “It infects kids very readily. Unlike the previous strains of the virus, we didn’t see children under eighth grade get infected often or they were not frequently very ill. They didn’t transmit to the rest of the community. That was why I was one of those people very strongly supporting in-person learning. B.1.1.7 turns that on its head.”

The number of Minnesota schools reporting COVID-19 cases has risen steadily since early January. But state Health Department data does not distinguish between variants when reporting cases.

More than 90 percent of Minnesota schools now offer some form of in-person learning to their students. That number is expected to rise when the Minneapolis and St. Paul districts welcome more students back to classes in mid-April.

Cops, Courts & Fires

Chauvin won’t testify at murder trial in Floyd’s death

Cops, Courts & Fires

2 arrested for intoxicated driving and other reports

News

US jobless claims plunge to 576,000, lowest since pandemic

Cops, Courts & Fires

Defense expert: Floyd died from heart trouble, not restraint

Cops, Courts & Fires

Former Minnesota cop charged in shooting of Black motorist

News

Minnesota extends COVID-19 state of emergency for 13th time

Health Updates

COVID-19 update: Vaccinations slow amid Johnson and Johnson ‘pause’

News

Electric vehicle sharing company looking to bring scooters to Albert Lea

Cops, Courts & Fires

Judge refuses request to acquit Chauvin in Floyd’s death

Cops, Courts & Fires

Break-ins and other reports

News

Report: Broad missteps left Capitol Police unprepared Jan. 6

Cops, Courts & Fires

Minnesota officer will be charged in shooting of Black motorist

Health Updates

Lighting event to recognize need for more organ donations

News

Dredging project left out of House bonding bill

Health Updates

COVID-19 update: Vaccinations, hospitalizations rising across state

Health Updates

Minnesota asks providers to halt Johnson & Johnson shots

News

What will happen with the 2021 Freeborn County Fair?

Cops, Courts & Fires

Minnesota police chief, cop quit after Black driver’s death

Cops, Courts & Fires

Expert says cop was justified in pinning down Floyd

Cops, Courts & Fires

Possible identity theft reported and other reports

Education

17 inducted as honorees on Albert Lea High School Wall of Inspiration

Cops, Courts & Fires

Protest after chief says officer meant to use Taser, not gun

Health Updates

US recommends ‘pause’ for J&J vaccine over clot reports

Health Updates

Council approves $200K loan to MercyOne