Latest on COVID-19 in MN: Pandemic digs in; bad numbers accelerate

A nurse wearing PPE checks an IV in a patient's hospital room.
Nurse Lauren Smith checks on medications inside one of her COVID-19 patient's rooms in St. Mary's Hospital at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., on Dec. 31, 2020.
Evan Frost | MPR News 2020

3 things to know:

  • 4,253 newly confirmed or probable cases, 34 newly reported deaths

  • 25,387 known, active cases, a high for 2021; 990 currently hospitalized

  • 75.1percent of 16-and-older residents with at least one vaccine dose

Minnesota’s firmly back on the wrong track in the COVID-19 pandemic. The state on Monday posted its highest single-day count of new cases since December. Active cases also reached a 2021 high and the rate of tests coming back positive is edging higher.

Known, active cases rose to 25,387 on Monday — the highest count for all of 2021. The seven-day average for new daily cases rose slightly.

Active, confirmed COVID-19 cases in Minnesota

The rate of COVID-19 tests coming back positive is nearly 8 percent, according to MPR News calculations, the highest its been since December and higher than the 5 percent officials find concerning — a key indicator that transmission of the virus is accelerating.

Hospitalizations are down slightly from their recent highs but still high. They remain about equally distributed between greater Minnesota and the Twin Cities metro area.

Graph showing COVID-19 hospitalizations by region

Bed counts had topped 1,000 in October, putting huge pressure on the state’s short-staffed care systems. Hospitalizations have been moving back and forth over that threshold since. There were 990 people in Minnesota hospitals as of Friday with COVID; 227 need intensive care, the Minnesota Health Department reported.

While numbers go up and down, Monday’s data shows Minnesota’s COVID-19 wave stuck at relatively high levels. State public health leaders continue to plead with Minnesotans to stay vigilant and get vaccinated if eligible, warning that another surge is possible.

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Driven by the highly contagious delta variant, the entire state shows a high level of COVID-19 transmission, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The newest cases are most prevalent among working age-Minnesotans, rather than among children, as they were a month ago, or among the elderly, who were hardest hit early in the pandemic.

New COVID-19 cases per capita by age

The state's death toll stands at 8,862, including 34 deaths newly reported on Monday. Deaths typically follow a surge in cases and hospitalizations. In past COVID-19 waves, it’s been the last of the key metrics to improve.

Deaths are trending now at their highest levels since January, averaging two dozen a day over the last seven reporting days.

New COVID-19 related deaths reported in Minnesota each day

Minnesota remains better positioned now than during its fall 2020 and spring 2021 spikes. More than 74 percent of state residents age 12 and older have received at least one vaccination shot, with nearly 71 percent now completely vaccinated.

Graph showing total COVID-19 vaccinations by age

The state is seeing progress in getting booster shots into Minnesotans who’ve already been vaccinated.

New COVID-19 vaccine doses shipped and given.

However, the struggle continues to get more Minnesotans vaccinated. Wide gaps remain in the vaccination rates among regions and counties.

Map of Minnesota COVID-19 eligible vaccination rate