Latest on COVID-19 in MN: Hospital needs falling rapidly

Staff utilize protective wear while working with COVID-19 patients
Staff utilize protective wear while working with COVID-19 patients inside negative pressure rooms on Dec. 8, 2021, at the St. Cloud Hospital’s intensive care unit.
Paul Middlestaedt for MPR News 2021

3 things to know:

  • 217 hospitalized; 26 in ICU; hospitalizations falling quickly

  • About 3,400 known active cases, down nearly half from March 1

  • Small, upward trend seen in newest Twin Cities wastewater

Updated 2:50 p.m.

COVID-19 conditions continue to ease in Minnesota, with a little more than 200 patients in the hospital now and known, active cases falling significantly since the start of March.

Overall, there are about 3,400 active, confirmed COVID-19 cases in Minnesota — roughly half the caseload from the start of March and down dramatically from mid-January, when active cases topped 67,000.

The trend line is at its lowest point since late July.

Active, confirmed COVID-19 cases in Minnesota

Hospitalizations are falling rapidly — 217 people are currently in the hospital with COVID, with 26 needing an intensive care bed. More than 500 were hospitalized in Minnesota on March 1.

Graph showing COVID-19 hospitalizations by region

Hospitals across the state had been stretched to the breaking point at the start of the year as COVID cases and other rising health care needs grew rapidly.

Health officials continue to plead for vigilance against the disease. In late June, Minnesota appeared to be through the worst of the pandemic before it came roaring back.

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For the first time since January, the overall COVID levels in Twin Cities wastewater are trending upward. So far, the increase is mild — about a 15 percent weekly increase on the metro’s very low COVID levels — but it’s there, driven by the latest COVID omicron strain, BA.2.

Still, the most recent map from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows significant pandemic improvement statewide, with only five counties — Fillmore, Olmsted, Goodhue, Wilkin and Mahnomen — still recording high levels of transmission.

New case counts in Minnesota slipped just below 400 cases per day over the last seven reporting days.

Graph of new COVID-19 cases per day in Minnesota

Seven newly reported deaths put the state's death toll at 12,369. 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. Death rates have been falling in recent weeks.

New COVID-19 related deaths reported in Minnesota each day

Vaccinations have put Minnesota in a better position now than during its fall 2020 and spring 2021 spikes: 78 percent of state residents age 12 and older have received at least one vaccination shot, with 74 percent now completely vaccinated.

Officials say roughly 70 percent of Minnesota’s total population is now vaccinated with at least one shot, with about two-thirds completely vaccinated.

Graph showing total COVID-19 vaccinations by age

Regional vaccination rates, though, still differ significantly.

Map of Minnesota COVID-19 eligible vaccination rate