March 29 update on COVID-19 in MN: Vaccination pace quickens; active cases up

A man in a car gets a shot.
Eugene Heiberger receives the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine through the window of his car at a HealthPartners drive-up vaccination site in Bloomington, Minn., on March 5.
Evan Frost | MPR News file

3 things to know

  • About 29 percent with at least 1 dose; 18 percent fully vaccinated

  • Active cases rise to levels not seen since mid-January

  • State set to open vaccine eligibility for all adults on Tuesday

Updated: 11:35 a.m.

An encouraging rise in Minnesota’s COVID-19 vaccination pace is pushing the trend line in the right direction. Active cases, however, continue to edge higher.

The Health Department on Monday reported about 32,000 new vaccinations, roughly the same as last Monday. Still, the seven-day trend rose to more than 44,000 shots daily, the highest since vaccinations began in late December.

That’s welcome news following weeks where the pace was flat to declining.

Newly reported COVID-19 vaccine doses in Minnesota

More than 990,000 people — about 17.8 percent of the state’s population — have completed their vaccinations while more than 1.6 million — 28.9 percent — have received at least one dose, including more than 80 percent of people age 65 and older.

Create a More Connected Minnesota

MPR News is your trusted resource for the news you need. With your support, MPR News brings accessible, courageous journalism and authentic conversation to everyone - free of paywalls and barriers. Your gift makes a difference.

A line chart.

Officials remain concerned about rising caseloads tied to the U.K. COVID-19 variant and to youth sports. They’ve confirmed more than 500 cases of the U.K. strain in recent weeks and believe as many half the state’s new cases may be tied to that variant.

They believe it’s a race at this point to get as many Minnesotans vaccinated as quickly as possible to hold off another surge in cases. Starting Tuesday, hundreds of thousands of more Minnesotans will become eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccination as the state begins offering shots to any resident 16 and older.

Graph projecting when most Minnesotans will get vaccinated
Projections by MPR News data reporter David Montgomery

Regional outbreaks concerning; active cases up

After a relatively stable stretch following a late fall surge, warning lights are flashing around Minnesota’s COVID-19 disease data.

The number of known, active cases has been trending upward over the past couple weeks, with 13,010 active cases as of Monday’s report, marking 11 consecutive days with active counts above 10,000, a stretch not seen since late January.

Active, confirmed COVID-19 cases in Minnesota

It’s the first time active cases have topped 13,000 since mid-January.

While still low compared to late November and early December, the increase is notable given the worries over the rise of the U.K. COVID-19 strain, which state health officials suspect is driving the current upswing.

Hospitalizations are low compared to the late-fall surge, but those counts are creeping up as well. Health Department data showed 343 people with COVID-19 in Minnesota hospitals; 88 needed intensive care.

Five deaths reported on Monday raised Minnesota’s overall pandemic death toll to 6,835. Among those who’ve died, about 62 percent had been living in long-term care or assisted living facilities; most had underlying health problems.

New COVID-19 related deaths reported in Minnesota each day

The state has recorded 516,608 total confirmed or probable cases so far in the pandemic, including 1,550 posted Monday. About 96 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.

New COVID-19 cases per day in Minnesota

Regionally, all parts of Minnesota are in better shape than they were in late November and early December. Some areas are seeing upticks in cases.

New COVID-19 cases by Minnesota region

Public health leaders continue to keep watch on clusters in the southwest Twin Cities metro — specifically Carver and Scott counties — as well as the Mankato area and the eastern Iron Range, centered around the town of Aurora. There’s also an outbreak now in Ely, northeast of Aurora.

Cases spread across age groups

People in their 20s still make up the age bracket with the state’s largest number of confirmed cases — more than 96,000 since the pandemic began, including more than 50,000 among those ages 20 to 24.

New Minnesota COVID-19 cases by age, adjusted for population

The number of high school-age youth confirmed with the disease has also grown, with nearly 41,000 total cases among those ages 15 to 19 since the pandemic began.

With kids increasingly returning to school buildings and sports, Minnesota public health officials are urging Minnesota families with children to get tested every two weeks for COVID-19 now 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 youth 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 among people of color

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

New COVID-19 cases per capita by race

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.

Distrust of the government, together with deeply rooted health and economic disparities, have hampered efforts to boost testing among communities of color, officials say, especially among unauthorized immigrants who fear their personal information may be used to deport them.

Walz has acknowledged that distrust by communities of color has been a problem during the pandemic. Officials have offered up some data on vaccinations broken down by race and ethnicity. The state is updating the data weekly.

Jan Malcolm, the state health commissioner, has said the state is committed to doing more to expand vaccine access to people of color, including getting more doses to community pharmacies, partnering with local groups and deploying mobile vaccination clinics.

COVID-19 in Minnesota

Data in these graphs are based on the Minnesota Department of Health's cumulative totals released at 11 a.m. daily. You can find more detailed statistics on COVID-19 at the Health Department website.

Top headlines

A glimpse at the road to recovery after a difficult battle with COVID-19: After more than a month in Mayo’s ICU, doctors weren’t sure Gabe Pastores would make it out alive. And then one day he started to get better, marking the start of a long recovery that Pastores said he’s determined to conquer.

How to find a COVID-19 vaccine in Minnesota: Here's what you need to know about the many ways to sign up for vaccination in Minnesota — and what to consider as you do.