COVID-19 in MN weekly update: Three weeks of rising case counts

A young woman gets a vaccine at a table.
Austin, Minn., High School student Elsi Yesenia Flores, 17, prepares to get her second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on May 28. She was initially worried about getting the shot for fear it would make her feel sick. But seeing her mother get the vaccine helped convince her to get one, too.
Catharine Richert | MPR News file

3 things to know

  • COVID-19 case counts have been ticking upward for three weeks

  • Deaths continue to trend near early-pandemic lows

  • 16 and older with at least one vaccine shot: 68 percent

With COVID-19 case counts now trending upward for the past three weeks in Minnesota, it appears the state is amid a fourth wave of the pandemic.

The seven-day rolling average of new COVID cases in Minnesota has jumped from about 90 a day at the start of the month, to nearly 270 a day as of Friday's update from state health officials.

New COVID-19 cases per day in Minnesota

It's cause for concern, to be sure — but also cause to look for context amid the past 16 months of pandemic data.

The more-contagious delta variant continues to circulate and infect people all across Minnesota. Case counts are rising in all regions, and the test positivity rate has inched back above 2 percent after previously falling below 1 percent.

And most of the new infections are among unvaccinated people — while the vaccination rate among Minnesotans 12 and older remains stubbornly stagnant at about two-thirds of that population.

Graph showing total COVID-19 vaccinations by age

But the number of new cases remains just a fraction of the peaks seen in earlier waves —average case counts exceeded 2,000 a day in April, and 7,000 last November. And the test positivity rate remains far below the 5-percent figure officials have long said is cause for concern.

And with nearly 3 million Minnesotans now fully vaccinated, there just isn't as much ground where the coronavirus can gain new footholds in the state.

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

Hospitalizations are up only slightly in recent weeks, while the number of COVID deaths reported each day hovers around the lowest level seen since the earliest weeks of the pandemic — though reports of hospitalizations and deaths lag behind reports of new cases.

New COVID-19 related deaths reported in Minnesota each day

Numbers edge up but still near pandemic lows

The number of known, active COVID-19 cases in Minnesota — that’s the number of people who need to be in isolation so they don’t spread the coronavirus to anyone else — ticked back above 2,000 in Thursday’s report, and climbed above 2,200 on Friday.

Active, confirmed COVID-19 cases in Minnesota

That’s up from fewer than 800 at the start of the month — but still down dramatically since May 1, when Minnesota had more than 15,000 active cases.

New COVID-19 cases per capita by race

Two newly reported deaths on Friday raised Minnesota’s pandemic toll to 7,650. Among those who have died, about 59 percent had been living in long-term care or assisted living facilities; most had underlying health problems.

On average, Minnesota is reported about two COVID deaths a day over the past week, keeping those numbers down near pandemic lows.

The state has recorded 609,387 total confirmed or probable cases in the pandemic, including the 375 posted Friday. About 98 percent of Minnesotans known to be infected with COVID-19 have recovered to the point where they no longer need to isolate.

New COVID-19 cases by Minnesota region

People in their 20s make up the age bracket with the state’s largest number of confirmed cases — more than 112,000 since the pandemic began.

Although young people are less likely to feel the worst effects of the disease and end up hospitalized, experts worry they can spread it unknowingly to older relatives and members of other vulnerable populations.

Vaccination pace crawls

About 3.1 million Minnesota residents 12 and older have at least one vaccine dose.

More than 2.9 million are completely vaccinated. That’s about 63.2 percent of the state’s 12-and-older population completely vaccinated and 66.4 percent with at least one shot. For just the state’s 16-and-older population, the numbers are 65.1 percent fully vaccinated and 68.1 percent with at least one shot.

A line chart.
Tracking COVID-19 vaccinations in Minnesota.
David H. Montgomery | MPR News

More than 91 percent of Minnesotans 65 and older have at least one dose of the vaccine.

In total, for all ages, about 53.5 percent of the state’s total population is now completely vaccinated.

While Minnesota’s vaccination rate recently showed an uptick, the pace has fallen dramatically since peaking in April and continues to stumble ahead.

At the current pace, it appears it will be late August or early September before Minnesota has 70 percent of residents 16 and older with at least one vaccine dose — a target officials once hoped to reach by July 1.

Graph showing when Minnesota is on target to vaccinated 70% of adults

The vaccination pace is lagging among Minnesota’s Latino, Black and Indigenous populations.

Chart of vaccinations by race

Minnesota also is seeing big regional gaps in vaccination rates, with most counties outside the Twin Cities region still below 70 percent of adults vaccinated — and a few still below 50 percent.

Map of Minnesota COVID-19 eligible vaccination rate

Editor's note: With the pandemic largely in check, we have ended our daily "Latest on COVID-19 in MN" stories. In their place, we're posting a weekly summary story on Fridays. You'll still be able to find updated graphics and data on our COVID-19 story collection page. And you can count on us to continue covering the pandemic.

COVID-19 in Minnesota

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

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