April 20 update on COVID-19 in MN: Cases continue to fall, vaccinations hold steady

A needle goes into an arm.
A COVID-19 vaccine is put into a patient's arm at a vaccine clinic in St. Paul on March 18.
Evan Frost | MPR News file

3 things to know

  • About 52 percent of Minnesotans 16 and older have received at least one vaccine dose; 36 percent are completely vaccinated

  • Hospital admission, ICU trends hold steady; health officials say virus variants likely are driving increase in new cases

  • Minnesota’s pandemic death toll now at 7,031

Updated: 12:35 p.m.

As the state races to beat out a new, more contagious variant of COVID-19 with vaccines, COVID-19 cases — and case positivity rate — continue to decline.

The state reported 1,189 new cases of COVID-19 Tuesday. Meanwhile, vaccination rates held steady, with 52 percent of Minnesotans 16 and older having gotten a COVID-19 shot.

And while hospitalizations overall remained unchanged from recent days, there’s no clear decline yet in the hospitalization data. The state reported 193 people in the intensive care unit on Tuesday, and 493 people in non-ICU beds. Both figures are about as high as they’ve been in months.”

The state reported five additional deaths Tuesday, bringing the state’s death toll to 7,031.

Newly reported COVID-19 vaccine doses in Minnesota

Here are Minnesota’s latest COVID-19 statistics, as of Monday:

  • 7,031 deaths (five new); 558,850 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

Graph projecting when most Minnesotans will get vaccinated
MPR News data reporter David Montgomery projects current vaccination data into the future to show when most Minnesotans would get vaccinated at various paces.
David H. Montgomery | MPR News

Vaccinations on downward slide

As of Tuesday, the state 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.

Those numbers have been holding steady in recent days, and the data overall suggests vaccines are on a downward slide. This is partially driven by supply cuts, particularly in the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which federal authorities paused last week as it investigates the possibility of rare side effects associated with the shot.

Meanwhile, supply continues to outpace demand in some parts of the state.

On Tuesday, Mayo Clinic, which has locations throughout southern Minnesota, put a call out to media that it had too many spots. In a notice sent to the press, Mayo said that people who are not Clinic patients could sign up for a vaccine with them, as well as people who don’t live in Minnesota.

Elsewhere, local public health with extra doses is partnering with schools to vaccinate teenagers 16 and older.

Still, the data shows that Minnesota, on the whole, is administering vaccines almost as quickly as they come in.

Hospital, ICU needs hover at winter levels

Hospitalizations have climbed significantly in the past few 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 Tuesday raised Minnesota’s overall pandemic death toll to 7,031. Among those who have 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 558,850 total confirmed or probable cases so far in the pandemic, including the 1,189 posted Tuesday. 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.

New COVID-19 cases per day in Minnesota

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 continues to drop.

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.

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

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.

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.

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

Chart of vaccinations by race

Developments around the state

County fairs still have questions

Organizers of county fairs across Minnesota are watching COVID-19 case numbers, and vaccination rates, with a mix of hope and trepidation.

It’s not clear what the COVID-19 landscape will look like this summer. Vaccination rates are in a close race with more contagious variants — and the uncertainty is starting to get to county fair organizers. And planning is well underway for this summer's fairs, after many were canceled by the pandemic last year.

Lake of the Woods County has one of the state’s earlier fairs, set to open in mid-July. J.P. Sweet, one of the fair’s planners, said it’s hard to nail down events with any certainty — or even know how to lay out the fairgrounds — because it’s not clear what the landscape will be in a few months.

“What are restrictions going to look like? What’s the masking look like?” Sweet said. “And where are our numbers at? Because obviously we don’t want to host a public event if we are in the middle of a large COVID outbreak within our community.”

Sweet said he's considered rescheduling the fair for later in the summer, but that would present a whole different set of challenges. For now he said the only option is to stay flexible, and be ready to radically downsize the fair, if necessary.

“What would make a move very difficult for a county fair would be, your carnival is your big one,” he said. “Our guy comes up from New Orleans and plays several county fairs throughout the state.”

The carnival is booked, years in advance. There’s no rescheduling it. He’d have to cancel the carnival to move the fair itself. And without rides, Sweet said, the fair isn’t worth having.

— John Enger | MPR News

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.