April 21 update on COVID-19 in MN: Spring case wave ebbing; vaccination pace slips

Syringes filled with vaccines lay on a table.
Syringes filled with the Moderna vaccine await patients in February at the Cook County Community Center in Grand Marais.
Derek Montgomery for MPR News

3 things to know

  • Spring wave of active cases receding; ICU needs still relatively high

  • About 53 percent of Minnesotans 16 and older have received at least one vaccine dose; 37 percent are completely vaccinated

  • Vaccine pace slips as supplies stall

Updated: 11:55 a.m.

Minnesota’s COVID-19 numbers continue to suggest the latest wave of cases may have crested, although intensive care hospitalizations remain relatively high and newly reported deaths ticked up again.

Known, active cases came in at just over 16,000 in Wednesday’s state Health Department report, continuing a retreat from Friday’s peak of just over 20,000.

Given the state’s vaccination pace, officials didn’t expect this wave would match the late November surge, when active cases leaped to around 50,000. But they’ve been anxious about the growth of COVID-19 strains and Minnesotans’ willingness to stay vigilant against the disease.

The vaccination pace is down from earlier in the month. Nearly 53 percent of all Minnesotans 16 and older have received at least one shot with more than 37 percent completely vaccinated.

Newly reported COVID-19 vaccine doses in Minnesota

The percentage of COVID-19 tests coming back positive continues to trend down after a recent upswing. It’s still above the 5 percent threshold that public health leaders find concerning.

Vaccination pace slips as supplies stall

As of Wednesday, 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 more than 2.3 million have received at least one dose, including nearly 86 percent of residents age 65 and older.

A line chart.

The state’s efforts have been hampered recently by supply cuts, particularly in the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which federal authorities paused last week as they investigate the possibility of rare side effects associated with the shot.

Minnesota’s vaccination pace peaked at more than 40,000 first doses per day last week. Now, it looks like the state is headed for half that and may last for several weeks.

At about 27,000 first doses per day, the current rate, Minnesota is on track to finish vaccinating 80 percent of adults in early June. This had been mid-to-late May at the peak.

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

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. 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 at levels not seen since January. Health officials say coronavirus variants circulating in Minnesota are driving those increases.

Wednesday’s Health Department report showed 676 people with COVID-19 in Minnesota hospitals; 193 needed an intensive care bed.

Graph of new ICU and non-ICU COVID-19 hospitalizations

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.

Thirteen deaths reported Wednesday raised Minnesota’s overall pandemic death toll to 7,044. 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 560,450 total confirmed or probable cases so far in the pandemic, including the 1,611 posted Wednesday. 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

Regionally, all parts of Minnesota are in better shape than they were in late November and early December. Cases counts were creeping up the past few weeks across the state, but it appears to have mostly peaked.

New COVID-19 cases by Minnesota region

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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