3 things to know
About 49.8 percent of 16-and-older Minnesotans have received at least one vaccine dose, 34.5 percent fully vaccinated
Hospital admission, ICU trends are hovering at winter levels; health officials say virus variants likely are driving increase in new cases
Active cases topped 20,000 for the first time since December
Updated 12:35 p.m.
Minnesota remains in a cycle of hopeful and concerning news on COVID-19. Officials on Saturday will likely report more than half of the state’s adults have received at least one vaccine dose, but also mark that the state’s passed 7,000 deaths.
Health Department calculations on Friday show 49.8 percent of the state’s adult population has received at least one vaccine dose, with more than one-third completely vaccinated.
At the same time, known active cases are now at levels not seen since December.
Hospital, ICU needs hover at winter levels
The newest report shows 671 people in Minnesota hospitals with COVID-19 as of Thursday; 165 needed intensive care, staying near the highest number of ICU patients since early January.
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.
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.
While the numbers are still low compared to late November and early December, the rising trend has been notable given the worries over the rise of the highly contagious U.K. variant, which state health officials suspect is driving the current upswing.
The number of known, active cases has been trending upward over the past weeks, with more than 20,000 as of Friday’s report — the first time since December that active cases have crossed that threshold.
Six deaths reported on Friday raised Minnesota’s overall pandemic death toll to 6,995. 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 552,117 total confirmed or probable cases so far in the pandemic, including 2,299 posted Friday. 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 may be ebbing. The percentage of tests coming back positive for COVID-19 has been basically flat over the past week, at around 6.1 percent after growing steadily in prior weeks
The rate of growth for new cases also appears to be slowing significantly.
Thanks to vaccinations, officials don’t believe Minnesota will the kind of steep surge in cases seen in November and December but that doesn’t mean the worst of the current wave is over.
"We are still in precarious territory,” state Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said Thursday.
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.
Friday’s Health Department data showed more than 1.5 million Minnesotans fully inoculated while about 2.2 million have received at least one dose, including about 85 percent of residents age 65 and older. The agency reported about 66,000 more vaccinations.
A short-term dip is coming, though, in the vaccination pace, due to the pause on Johnson & Johnson vaccine distribution.
The pause was prompted by a joint Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Food and Drug Administration recommendation that providers pause their distribution of the J&J vaccine while the agencies investigate the exceedingly rare occurrence of blood clots.
The clots have been found in six women — out of nearly 7 million vaccines given nationwide — between the ages of 18 and 48. Officials say they are not aware of any cases of blood clots occurring among the more than 184,000 state residents who have received the single dose vaccine.
At the current rate of vaccinations, 80 percent of Minnesotans 16 and older will have one dose by the end of the May.
Before this week’s J&J pause and an earlier factory mishap, officials had been hopeful that a flood of new J&J vaccines would combine with existing Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to drive Minnesota’s vaccination rate to a new level.
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 earlier this week 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 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.
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.
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.
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