COVID-19 in MN: Caseloads, hospital needs edge up as summer swing continues

A doctor and nurse talk in a hallway.
Dr. Mark Wylam confers with nurse Lauren Smith about the treatment of a COVID-19 patient inside a medical ICU at St. Mary's Hospital at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., in December.
Evan Frost | MPR News file

3 things to know

  • 1,012 newly confirmed cases; 6 newly reported deaths

  • 6,179 known, active cases; 267 currently hospitalized

  • 69.4 percent of 16-and-older residents with at least one vaccine dose

Updated 12:07 p.m.

The first week of August is closing with some concerning Minnesota COVID-19 data, but the overall trend lines at this point still don’t look as bad as the mid-April wave.

The highly contagious delta variant of COVID-19 — estimated to make up more than 80 percent of new cases here — has led to more sickness and hospitalizations.

Friday’s Health Department data showed Minnesota averaging 732 new cases per day over the last seven reporting days, up significantly from about 91 daily at the start of July, when it looked like the endgame was near.

Known active cases in that stretch have gone from 780 to 6,179.

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Active, confirmed COVID-19 cases in Minnesota

While there’s no longer a statewide masking order, a host of cities, counties school districts and other governments around the state are now requiring masks be worn inside government buildings.

“Heading up in case counts is a direction that no one wanted to go,” Minnesota Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm told reporters earlier in the week. “This is a very opportunistic virus,” she added, imploring eligible Minnesotans to get their shots.

Hospital and intensive care needs have risen, although they still aren’t close to the numbers seen in the fall and spring — 267 people are in hospital beds currently with COVID-19, including 80 needing intensive care. On April 22, 202 patients needed ICU beds.

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

Minnesota remains in a much better position now than during the fall and spring spikes.

The biggest difference: Nearly 70 percent of state residents 16 and older have received at least one vaccination shot. Add in the more than 130,000 12-to-15-year-olds with at least one shot so far and the state has nearly 3.2 million residents partially or completely vaccinated.

Graph showing total COVID-19 vaccinations by age

Deaths also remain fairly moderate, so far, even as cases and hospitalizations have risen. Malcolm said that’s due directly to vaccinations. “We are not seeing the same proportionate rise in the numbers of deaths as we’ve seen in prior waves.”

New COVID-19 related deaths reported in Minnesota each day

Wide gaps, however, remain in the vaccination rate among Minnesota regions.

Map of Minnesota COVID-19 eligible vaccination rate

There’s no doubt the disease has at least one more punch.

Cases are also accelerating among Black Minnesotans, with per capita case growth significantly higher than any other racial or ethnic group during this current wave.

New COVID-19 cases per capita by race

The jump is happening as the vaccination rate for Black Minnesotans has eased following a strong spring.

Chart of vaccinations by race