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COVID-19 update: Vaccinations back on the upswing, for now; new cases reported in area

After falling then flattening following a late January surge, Minnesota’s COVID-19 vaccination pace continued to slowly rebound on Saturday, as overall pandemic trends remain encouraging.

State health officials on Saturday reported 43,407 vaccine doses administered — the third-greatest daily total so far. Averaged over the past week, the pace of vaccinations ticked upward and is at its greatest point since Feb. 2.

But that reflects data through Thursday — and may not yet account for the effects of the past week’s winter storms in the southern and eastern U.S. The Health Department earlier this week warned the cold snap gripping the nation would delay vaccine shipments to Minnesota, potentially depressing vaccination counts in the short-term.

The department said about half of the 85,000 or so doses expected this week would not arrive in time as expected. Some vaccination appointments at sites around the state have been postponed or rescheduled.

About 13.4 percent of Minnesotans had received at least one dose as of the latest update, with about 5.7 percent completely vaccinated. About 40.5 percent of Minnesotans 65 and older have received at least one shot.

The total number of vaccine doses administered now stands at 1,059,617.

Here are Minnesota’s current COVID-19 statistics:

  • 6,423 deaths (11 new)
  • 478,157 positive cases (884 new), 464,504 off isolation (97 percent)
  • 7.1 million tests, 3.4 million Minnesotans tested (about 59 percent of the population)
  • 13.4 percent of Minnesotans vaccinated with at least one dose

State public health leaders have emphasized over the past weeks that the relatively low flow of vaccine supplies from the federal government is the main problem holding back the pace of vaccinations.

While recent vaccination numbers are trending upward, Minnesota at the current pace would only be able to vaccinate about 80 percent of adults by sometime in September. Getting it done by summer would require the state to administer 40,000 to 50,000 shots per day, or more.

Minnesota is currently ranked 20th among states in doses administered per 100,000 people, according to data collected by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Vaccination questions aside, Minnesota’s COVID-19 numbers show the state on a steady, positive path, with key pandemic metrics continuing to improve. Known, active cases ticked above 7,000, but the overall trend is solid, hovering around late September levels.

The seven-day hospital admissions trend for people with COVID-19 has also receded to September levels.

There were 282 people with COVID-19 in Minnesota hospitals as of Thursday. It was a second consecutive day of hospitalizations below 300, the first time that’s happened since the fall; 59 people needed intensive care.

Eleven reported deaths on Saturday raised Minnesota’s toll to 6,423. Among those who’ve died, about 63 percent had been living in long-term care or assisted living facilities; most had underlying health problems.

The seven-day rolling average for deaths is below eight deaths per day, the lowest since September.

The state’s recorded 478,157 total confirmed or probable cases so far in the pandemic, including 884 reported Saturday. About 97 percent of Minnesotans known to be infected with COVID-19 in the pandemic have recovered to the point they no longer need to be isolated.

The trends offer reasons to feel encouraged, enough so that Gov. Tim Walz on Wednesday proclaimed “we’re on our way to ending the pandemic” as he OK’d reopening secondary schools, starting Monday. “We’re beating this thing.”

State health officials continue to monitor new virus strains circulating in the United States, which may be more contagious. Walz and other officials have warned that they could lead to an increase in cases.

Kris Ehresmann, the state’s infectious disease director, reaffirmed those concerns on Tuesday, noting that Minnesota’s now confirmed 40 cases of the U.K. strain here. “We want to make sure we’re not giving a foothold to these variants.”

Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, told MPR News on Thursday that the variants are very concerning and it’s unclear whether they evade immunity from vaccination or natural protection.

 

South-central Minnesota update

Freeborn County reported three new cases Saturday, increasing the county’s cumulative total to 2,749.

Of the total cases, 47 are considered active. One new hospitalization was reported and no new deaths.

The new cases included one person each in their 50s, 60s and 70s.

The following is an update on other area counties:

• Faribault County: three new lab-confirmed cases; 1,201 total cases

• Mower County: three new lab-confirmed cases; 3,979 total cases

• Steele County: seven new lab-confirmed cases; 2,964 total cases

• Waseca County: three new lab-confirmed cases; 2,052 total cases