3 things to know:
Minnesota tops 10,000 total deaths, nears 1 million total cases
1,645 currently hospitalized, 371 in ICU
Active caseloads starting to pull back
Updated 12:35 p.m.
Minnesota’s latest COVID-19 data suggests the surge from Thanksgiving gatherings is subsiding. Still, the state crossed a difficult milestone Wednesday, tallying more than 10,000 pandemic deaths. Hospitalizations remain high.
State Health Department numbers showed seven-day new cases averaging 3,319 a day; known, active cases fell to 25,425. Both counts are the lowest in more than a month.
The percentage of COVID tests coming back positive is trending at just over 8 percent, down from more than 10 percent a week ago. It’s improving but still higher than the 5 percent officials find concerning.
Hospitalizations have ticked down a bit but remain high. Bed counts that fell below 100 in mid-July jumped in the late fall; 1,645 people are hospitalized now with COVID with 371 needing intensive care. ICU cases are at their highest point in more than a year.
On a hopeful note, new hospital admissions have started to fall.
Hospital executives across the state have warned for weeks that COVID-19 patients combined with other care needs are overwhelming short-staffed care centers. In a letter published over the weekend in newspapers across the state, leaders of nine Minnesota health care systems called the situation heartbreaking and critical.
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The current surge, driven largely by the highly contagious delta variant, has been particularly hard on greater Minnesota. Minnesota last week also confirmed its first case of the omicron variant. The state’s tallied 971,667 cases in the pandemic, including reinfections.
Data collected by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show all Minnesota counties except for Norman and Red Lake currently with a high level of virus transmission.
The state's death toll stands at 10,018, including 54 deaths newly reported on Wednesday. More than half of these deaths have been Minnesotans older than 80, with another 30 percent among people 65-79, 12 percent for those ages 50-64, with 3.5 percent younger than 50.
Deaths overall in Minnesota are lower than at this time last year, but that’s driven entirely by lower death rates in nursing homes. However, COVID deaths occurring outside of long-term care settings are at record highs.
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.
The state seems better positioned now than during its fall 2020 and spring 2021 spikes. Nearly 76 percent of state residents age 12 and older have received at least one vaccination shot, with nearly 72 percent now completely vaccinated.
The state is seeing progress in getting booster shots into Minnesotans who’ve already been vaccinated.
However, the struggle continues to get first shots into more Minnesotans. Wide gaps remain in the vaccination rates among regions and counties.