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COVID-19 update: More than half of Minnesotans are vaccinated; positivity rate down

As Minnesota races to beat back a more contagious variant of COVID-19, it reached an important milestone this weekend, with more than half of Minnesotans 16 and older vaccinated.

Meanwhile, the state’s average positivity rate of new COVID-19 cases is down, after falling for four days in a row.

The good news still comes with concern over hospitalizations and deaths.

More than 680 people are in the hospital seeking treatment for COVID-19, and the state reported six additional deaths Monday, bringing the state’s death toll to 7,026.

Here are Minnesota’s latest COVID-19 statistics:

  • 7,026 deaths (6 new); 557,665 positive cases; 95 percent off isolation
  • 52 percent of adults with at least one dose; 36 percent completely vaccinated
  • About 85 percent of Minnesotans 65 and older with at least one vaccine dose

Vaccinations solid

As of Saturday, Health Department data showed that more than 1.6 million Minnesotans had completed their full vaccine series— two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine — while nearly 2.3 million have received at least one dose, including about 85 percent of residents age 65 and older.

A short-term dip in the vaccination pace was expected, due to the pause on Johnson & Johnson vaccine distribution.

Hospital, ICU needs hover at winter levels

Hospitalizations have climbed significantly in the past weeks and are hovering around levels not seen since early January. Health officials say coronavirus variants circulating in Minnesota are driving those increases.

Still, the latest numbers suggest that hospitalizations may be peaking.

The age of those newly hospitalized is trending younger than earlier in the pandemic. The majority of people in the hospital now for COVID-19 are younger than 60.

Six deaths Monday raised Minnesota’s overall pandemic death toll to 7,020. Among those who’ve died, about 62 percent had been living in long-term care or assisted living facilities; most had underlying health problems.

The state has recorded 557,665 total confirmed or probable cases so far in the pandemic, including the 1,292 posted Monday. About 95 percent of Minnesotans known to be infected with COVID-19 in the pandemic have recovered to the point where they no longer need to be isolated.

There are signs that the current wave of new cases may be ebbing. The percentage of tests coming back positive for COVID-19 over the past seven days dropped below 6 percent on Sunday — the first time that’s happened in more than a week.

Thanks to vaccinations, officials don’t believe Minnesota will experience the kind of steep surge in cases seen in November and December.

Regionally, all parts of Minnesota are in better shape than they were in late November and early December. The latest numbers, however, show cases creeping up across the state.

Youth cases grow; state urges weekly testing

Young people — some of whom are too young to be vaccinated — are driving case growth statewide.

The number of high school-age youth confirmed with the disease has grown, with more than 44,000 total cases among those ages 15 to 19 since the pandemic began.

In one recent situation, the state Health Department sent out an advisory recently asking anyone who attended the Northland Youth Wrestling Association tournament in Sioux Falls, S.D., to get tested for COVID-19. The tournament brought together 64 Minnesota teams from 52 counties — and now at least 29 cases in 13 schools around the state have been detected.

The state is also asking any student involved in youth sports or extracurricular activities of any kind to get tested for COVID-19 every week.

With kids increasingly returning to school buildings and sports, Minnesota public health officials are urging Minnesota families with children, in general, to be tested every two weeks for COVID-19 until the end of the school year.

Although young people are less likely to feel the worst effects of the disease and end up hospitalized, experts worry they will spread it unknowingly to older relatives and members of other vulnerable populations. Those with the coronavirus can spread it when they don’t have symptoms.

Caseloads, vaccinations among people of color

In Minnesota and across the country, COVID-19 has hitcommunities of color disproportionately hard in both cases and deaths. That’s been especially true for Minnesotans of Hispanic descent for much of the pandemic.

Even as new case counts continue to track well below their late November, early December peaks, the data shows Latino people continue to be hit hard.

The vaccination pace for people of color also remains frustratingly slow compared to white Minnesotans.

South-central Minnesota update

Freeborn County reported four new COVID-19 cases on Monday, increasing the county’s cumulative cases to 3,285.

Information has not yet been released about the new cases or how many cases are considered valid.

As of Saturday, 11,925 in the county had received one vaccination dose and 8,626 had received the completed series.

The following is an update on other area counties:

• Faribault County: two new lab-confirmed cases; 1,442 total cases; 5,303 people had received at least one dose of the vaccine and 4,010 had received the completed series.

• Mower County: two new lab-confirmed cases; 4,513 total cases; 16,659 people had received at least one dose of the vaccine and 12,048 had received the completed series.

• Steele County: one probable case; 3,641 total cases; 14,066 people had received at least one dose of the vaccine and 9,399 had received the completed series.

• Waseca County: no new lab-confirmed cases; 2,314 total cases; 6,868 people had received at least one dose of the vaccine and 4,842 had received the completed series.

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