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Latest on COVID-19 in MN: Record vaccination numbers over the weekend

Mar 01, 2021 05:48AM ● By Editor
CentraCare Health nurse Amy McAnnay preps a needle to administer a COVID-19 vaccination shot on Feb. 5 at Saint Benedict's Monastery in St. Joseph, Minn.   Photo: Paul Middlestaedt for MPR News file

From Minnesota Public Radio News - March 1, 2021

Minnesota’s COVID-19 vaccination effort has accelerated in recent days, with state health officials reporting consecutive days of record vaccination numbers over the weekend.

Saturday’s update from the Minnesota Department of Health showed 56,000 vaccine doses administered in the state — a record soon eclipsed by the 70,000 vaccinations reported on Sunday.

Averaged over the past week, Minnesota is averaging more than 34,000 vaccinations a day — the highest that number has been since vaccinations began in December.

Newly reported COVID-19 vaccine doses in Minnesota

The increased pace comes as vaccine shipments delayed by last month’s severe winter weather finally make their way around the state.

The bump in vaccinations comes after Gov. Tim Walz last week said every Minnesotan should be able to get a COVID-19 vaccine shot by the summer. At the current pace of around 34,000 doses per day, 80 percent of Minnesotans would be able to get a shot by August. 

A bar graph

And there’s reason to believe the vaccination rate might continue to increase, with the addition of the newly approved Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which only requires one dose. Shipments of that new vaccine option are expected to begin arriving in states in the next week. 

As of Sunday close to 16 percent of Minnesotans had received at least one dose of a COVID vaccine; close to half of state residents 65 and older have received at least one dose.

Just over 8 percent of Minnesota residents have received both doses to complete their vaccination.

Here are Minnesota’s current COVID-19 statistics:

  • 6,483 deaths (8 new)

  • 484,594 positive cases (813 new), 470,819 off isolation (97 percent)

  • 7.3 million tests, 3.5 million Minnesotans tested (about 61 percent of the population)

  • 16 percent of Minnesotans vaccinated with at least one dose

Minnesota has now administered 1,338,841 COVID-19 vaccine doses.
A line chart
Minnesota currently ranks 15th among states in doses administered per 100,000 people, according to data collected by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Uptick in cases but metrics relatively stable

Vaccination concerns aside, Minnesota’s COVID-19 numbers show the state holding fairly steady, although there has been a minor uptick in new and active cases.

Hospitalization rates remain encouraging and remain at levels last seen before the late-fall surge in cases. 

Graph of new ICU and non-ICU COVID-19 hospitalizations
Active confirmed COVID-19 cases in Minnesota

Eight newly reported deaths on Sunday raised Minnesota’s toll to 6,483. Among those who’ve died, about 63 percent had been living in long-term care or assisted living facilities; most had underlying health problems.

New COVID-19 related deaths reported in Minnesota each day

The state has recorded 484,594 total confirmed or probable cases so far in the pandemic, including 813 reported Sunday. About 97 percent of Minnesotans known to be infected with COVID-19 in the pandemic have recovered to the point where they no longer need to be isolated.

New COVID-19 cases per day in Minnesota

Cases spread across age groups, regions

People in their 20s still make up the age bracket with the state’s largest number of confirmed cases — more than 91,000 since the pandemic began, including 48,000 among people ages 20 to 24.

New Minnesota COVID-19 cases by age adjusted for population

The number of high school-age youth confirmed with the disease has also grown, with more than 37,000 total cases among those ages 15 to 19 since the pandemic began. 

With kids increasingly returning to school buildings and sports, Minnesota public health officials are urging Minnesota families with children to get tested every two weeks for COVID-19 now until the end of the school year.

Although young people are less likely to feel the worst effects of the disease and end up hospitalized, experts worry youth will spread it unknowingly to older relatives and members of other vulnerable populations. 

People can have the coronavirus and spread COVID-19 when they don’t have symptoms. 

Regionally, most parts of Minnesota are down significantly from the late November and early December spike, as well as a smaller January uptick.

There was a modest increase in cases in northwestern Minnesota recently, although it’s unclear why. 

New COVID-19 cases by Minnesota region

Earlier this week, Dan Huff, an assistant state health commissioner, expressed concern about the uptick seen in the northwest and west-central regions, saying it showed the state needed to remain vigilant against spread.“The vaccines are coming and continue to increase, and that is fantastic news, but we’re not there yet,” he said, adding, that the state doesn’t have enough people vaccinated “to stop the next wave.”

Caseloads still heaviest among people of color

In Minnesota and across the country, COVID-19 has hit communities of color disproportionately hard in both cases and deaths. That’s been especially true for Minnesotans of Hispanic descent for much of the pandemic.

Even as new case counts continue to fall from their late November, early December peaks, the data shows Latino people continue to be hit hard.

Distrust of the government, together with deeply rooted health and economic disparities, have hampered efforts to boost testing among communities of color, officials say, especially among unauthorized immigrants who fear their personal information may be used to deport them.

Distrust by communities of color “is the thing that has plagued us for some time,” Walz said Tuesday at a briefing promoting vaccinations for people of color.

Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said that it’s been a “real problem” not having data broken down by race and ethnicity but that the state may have data to share in the coming week.

Percent of COVID-19 tests to come back positive
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