April 6 update on COVID-19 in MN: Hospitalizations trending younger

A percon receives a COVID-19 vaccine.
Gary Boelhower receives a shot of the Moderna vaccine from Essentia Health nurse Jen Lemone on Feb. 26 in the basement of Asbury United Methodist Church in Duluth, Minn., during a vaccine clinic targeted at the BIPOC community in the city.
Derek Montgomery for MPR News file

3 things to know

  • Hospitalization bed use up 40 percent in past 10 days; patients skewing younger

  • About 33 percent with at least one dose; 21 percent completely vaccinated

  • Vaccinations mean Minnesota likely won’t see as severe a spike in cases as it saw in November, health commissioner says

Updated: 3 p.m.

Minnesota’s most recent COVID-19 data shows the state remains in a pattern of hopeful increases in inoculations and worrisome growth in new cases and hospitalizations.

While officials have cautioned not to read too much into the past couple of days of data, they remain increasingly concerned that the disease is on the march down the wrong path.

“We’re definitely not out of the woods yet,” Minnesota Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm told reporters Tuesday, noting that the seven-day positive test rate for the disease is back up at 6 percent. A 5 percent rate is a warning sign of growing spread.

Thanks to vaccinations, Minnesota likely won’t see as severe a spike in cases as it saw in November and December — but the pandemic isn’t over, Malcolm said.

The state’s case rate per 100,000 people has been rising uninterrupted, she noted. “We all need to pull together to reverse that trend.”

Cases rising; hospitalizations getting younger

The newest COVID-19 metrics reinforce Malcolm’s cautionary view.

The number of known, active cases has been trending upward over the past few weeks, with 15,679 active cases as of Tuesday’s report — marking nearly three weeks with active counts above 10,000, a stretch not seen since January.

Active, confirmed COVID-19 cases in Minnesota

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

They’d confirmed about 1,000 cases in the state of the U.K. strain as of last week and believe it’s responsible for the majority of the spread that happening now.

Hospitalization counts are also moving higher. Agency data showed 497 people with COVID-19 in Minnesota hospitals; 114 needed intensive care. Daily admissions to hospitals because of COVID-19 are trending at their highest levels since January.

Malcolm told reporters that COVID-19 bed use is up by 40 percent in the past 10 days and that a growing percentage of new cases are ending up in the hospital.

The age of those needing hospitalization has been skewing younger.

The average age of people hospitalized during the pandemic is 65, but it was 57 years old from March 23 to 29, Dr. Ruth Lynfield, the state’s epidemiologist, said Tuesday. The median age for deaths is 83 years old through the pandemic, but in March it was 78, she noted.

Four deaths reported on Tuesday raised Minnesota’s overall pandemic death toll to 6,889. 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 530,662 total confirmed or probable cases so far in the pandemic, including 3,014 posted Tuesday. 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

Nearly 3 in 10 Minnesota fully vaccinated

Officials have described the current situation as race against time to vaccinate as many Minnesotans as possible before the COVID-19 variants can get a stronger foothold in the state.

Tuesday’s data showed nearly 1.2 million Minnesotans are fully inoculated while more than 1.8 million have received at least one dose, including about 83 percent of residents age 65 and older.

A line chart.

The agency reported about 52,000 more vaccinations. Minnesota expects to see its federal vaccine supply shipments jump over the next few weeks.

Newly reported COVID-19 vaccine doses in Minnesota

To help win that race, state and federal officials on Monday unveiled plans to vaccinate as many as 100,000 Minnesotans over the next eight weeks at a site to be built at the state fairgrounds. The site will prioritize underserved communities hit hardest by the pandemic.

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

Regional hot spots bubble

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 in almost every region of the state.

New COVID-19 cases by Minnesota region

Public health leaders continue to keep watch on clusters in the southwest Twin Cities metro area as well as Mankato in southern Minnesota and around Aurora and Ely in the northeast. Central Minnesota is also seeing a rise in positive COVID-19 cases.

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 98,000 since the pandemic began, including more than 51,000 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 more than 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 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 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.

Officials have acknowledged that distrust by communities of color has been a problem during the pandemic. They’ve offered up some data on vaccinations broken down by race and ethnicity that they’re updating regularly.

Correction (April 6, 2021): A previous version of this story misstated the percent of Minnesota's population that has received both their first vaccination and completed their vaccinations. The above story has been updated.

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.

Latest developments

Severe weather closes a state vaccination site at Vikings facility Wednesday

Stormy weather damaged the Vikings practice facility, leading to the postponement of vaccinations at the site Wednesday.

A spokesperson for the state's COVID-19 community vaccination and testing program says the TCO Performance Center in Eagan, Minn., requires repairs.

The practice facility is a temporary state-run COVID-19 vaccination site.

The spokesperson says the Minnesota Department of Health is working to identify an alternative place for vaccinations and will contact those with appointments.

— Peter Cox | MPR News

Top headlines

Black nurse volunteers give COVID shots to Minnesota's most vulnerable: Inequities persist between how easily and quickly Minnesotans of color are getting vaccinated for COVID-19, as compared to their white neighbors. Helping to bridge that gap is a volunteer network of Black nurses, who say giving shots in familiar locations is key to getting more people of color vaccinated more quickly.

Minnesota to host FEMA vaccination site at state fairgrounds: The site will receive 168,000 doses of vaccine from Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson over eight weeks. The governor said the site, which will begin administering shots on April 14, will prioritize underserved communities hit hardest by the pandemic.

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