Latest on COVID-19 in MN: New, active case counts climbing again

Person wearing a face mask talks to people from behind a plexiglass.
Staff were on hand to guide and help people through the saliva COVID-19 testing site at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport in November 2020.
Elizabeth Flores | Star Tribune via AP 2020

3 things to know:

  • Newly reported and active case counts climbing

  • Positive test rate nearly 10 percent again, about twice the level officials find concerning

  • 1,313 hospitalized as of Thursday, 283 in ICU

Updated 3:25 p.m.

Minnesota’s COVID-19 roller-coaster ride continues. The latest available data shows active cases rising again following a three-week December dip. The Twin Cities metro area is seeing the bulk of new case growth.

The percentage of COVID tests coming back positive is trending at nearly 10 percent again — about twice the 5 percent rate officials find concerning — after slipping to around 7 percent in late December.

As cases have ramped up in Minnesota and across the country, and omicron seems to be spreading much faster than previous variants, it has put a strain on the state's testing sites.

Demand is up and so are long lines at several testing sites.

The testing site at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport is moving to appointments only on Monday at the request of airport staff because it's too crowded there. Meanwhile, testing centers at the Minneapolis Convention Center and Roy Wilkins Auditorium are extending hours this week, opening at 9 a.m. and closing at 6 p.m.

Given that the year-end holidays are still affecting data reporting, the state’s current COVID path remains unclear. Numbers reported on Monday were for data as of 4 a.m. Thursday. Most of the newly reported cases were from last Monday and Tuesday.

New COVID-19 cases per capita by age

State Health Department figures showed seven-day new cases averaging 4,093 a day; known, active cases rose to 33,147. The numbers signal the growing presence of COVID’s omicron variant in Minnesota following Thanksgiving and other holiday gatherings.

Active, confirmed COVID-19 cases in Minnesota

While hospitalizations have ebbed, counts remain relatively high — 1,313 people were hospitalized as of Thursday with COVID, 283 needed intensive care. New hospital admissions are coming down.

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

Hospital executives across the state have warned since late fall that COVID-19 patients combined with other care needs were overwhelming short-staffed care centers. In mid-December, leaders of nine Minnesota health care systems called the situation heartbreaking and critical.

Graph showing COVID-19 hospitalizations by region

Data collected by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show all Minnesota counties except for Norman and Traverse currently with a high level of virus transmission.

New COVID-19 cases by Minnesota region

The state's death toll stands at 10,564 including 48 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.

New COVID-19 related deaths reported in Minnesota each day

Minnesota is better positioned now than during its fall 2020 and spring 2021 spikes thanks to vaccinations. More than 76 percent of state residents age 12 and older have received at least one vaccination shot, with more than 72 percent now completely vaccinated.

Graph showing total COVID-19 vaccinations by age

The state is seeing progress in getting boosters 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.

Map of Minnesota COVID-19 eligible vaccination rate

MPR News reporter Peter Cox contributed to this story.