COVID-19 in MN: Summer wave edges higher; cases, hospital needs climb

A man uses a needle to administer a vaccine.
In December 2020, Pharmacy intern Joseph Ahenkorah administers a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to Cari Giroir, a licensed practical nurse, at the Gardens of Episcopal Homes in St. Paul.
Christine T. Nguyen | MPR News 2020

3 things to know

  • 1,912 newly confirmed or probable cases; 6 newly reported deaths

  • 12,953 known, active cases; 590 currently hospitalized

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

Updated 2:38 p.m.

Minnesota’s late-summer COVID-19 wave hasn’t been as steep as the waves that hit last spring and fall, but this one is taking longer to crest. Friday’s Health Department data shows the slow upward grind continues.

The state averaged more than 1,500 new cases per day over the last seven reporting days — three times greater than the start of August and dramatically higher than the 91 daily at the start of July.

New COVID-19 cases per day in Minnesota

Counts have accelerated in the late summer driven by the delta variant, leading to more sickness and hospitalizations. Known, active cases went from 780 on July 1 to nearly 13,000 in Friday’s report.

Active, confirmed COVID-19 cases in Minnesota

The rate of tests coming back positive continued to trend just above the 5 percent threshold that public health officials find concerning, although Friday’s numbers showed some slight improvement.

Hospital and intensive care needs have risen, although they still haven’t reached peak counts seen in the fall and spring — 590 people are in hospital beds currently with COVID-19, including 166 needing intensive care. During the mid-April wave, 202 patients at one point needed ICU beds.

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

Minnesota remains better positioned now than during the fall and spring spikes. More than 70 percent of state residents age 12 and older have received at least one vaccination shot, and nearly two-thirds of that population are completely vaccinated.

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More than half of every eligible age group in Minnesota has at least one dose of vaccine.

Graph showing total COVID-19 vaccinations by age

Still, it remains a slow march to get more Minnesotans vaccinated, and wide gaps remain in the vaccination rate among state regions.

Map of Minnesota COVID-19 eligible vaccination rate

State health leaders on Friday continued to urge Minnesotans to stay vigilant against the disease, noting that all but one Minnesota County — Big Stone — shows viral transmission in the high or substantial range.

They remain concerned about the spread of the virus among younger Minnesotans. The Health Department said it’s confirmed 324 cases this week of COVID-19 tied to schools, summer camps, child care and similar settings, nearly 50 percent more than the prior week.

Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm also implored Minnesota schools to follow federal guidance on masking and social distancing, noting the situation in Albert Lea where nearly 300 students are now in COVID-19 quarantine after being exposed to the virus. School began a few days ago.

“The transmission chain started just that quickly and now may not be easily stopped,” Malcolm said.