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Latest on COVID-19 in MN: Deaths stay low as case counts tick up

Jul 15, 2021 06:46AM ● By Editor
Lucas Ashley receives his second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine from nurse Lily Thomas at Lionsgate Academy in Minnetonka, Minn., on Monday, June 28, 2021.
Photo: Evan Frost | MPR News

From Minnesota Public Radio News - July 15, 2021

Minnesota’s seeing COVID-19 case counts tick higher, although there are no signs to suggest the state is headed for another surge like it saw in mid-April. Yes, new daily cases are up, but key metrics continue to hover around relatively low levels.

Hospitalizations remain roughly steady at about 100, and the state averaged fewer than three deaths daily in the last reporting week, down to levels not seen since the earliest weeks of the pandemic.

Worries, though, still linger. 

Cases are up among Black Minnesotans, who have a much lower vaccination rate compared to whites or Minnesotans of Asian descent. 

Officials are also concerned about the growth of the COVID-19 delta variant among the state’s unvaccinated population. Some 1.4 million Minnesotans 16 and older still haven’t received at least a first dose.

Graph showing total COVID-19 vaccinations by age
Overall conditions, though, remain significantly better than in mid-April. More Minnesotans are vaccinated now, and the percentage of COVID-19 tests coming back positive averaged about 1 percent over the past reporting week, far below the 5 percent officials find concerning.

Numbers edge up but still near pandemic lows

Known, active COVID-19 cases in Minnesota came in at 1,123 in Wednesday’s report, although the seven-day trend remains under 1,000. Counts are down dramatically since May 1, when Minnesota had more than 15,000 active cases.

Active confirmed COVID-19 cases in Minnesota

Hospitalizations have stayed relatively steady the past few weeks — 98 patients are in Minnesota hospitals with COVID-19, with 22 in intensive care. That’s likely to increase somewhat given the recent uptick in caseloads. 

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

Three newly reported deaths on Wednesday raised Minnesota’s pandemic toll to 7,630. Among those who have died, about 59 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’s recorded 607,069 total confirmed or probable cases in the pandemic, including the 208 posted Wednesday. Roughly 99 percent of Minnesotans known to be infected with COVID-19 have recovered to the point where they no longer need to isolate. 

New COVID-19 cases per day in Minnesota

Regionally, caseloads are up in the southeast and in east-central Minnesota, as well as the Twin Cities area. There’s also an uptick now in western parts of the state. Still, conditions are far better than during the mid-April wave and the huge late fall surge.

New COVID-19 cases by Minnesota region

People in their 20s make up the age bracket with the state’s largest number of confirmed cases — more than 112,000 since the pandemic began.

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

Vaccination pace crawls

About 3 million residents 16 and older now have at least one vaccine dose. 

More than 2.8 million are completely vaccinated. That’s about 64.5 percent of the state’s 16-and-older population completely vaccinated and 67.6 percent with at least one shot, including 91 percent of people 65 and older. 

Add in nearly 113,000 12-to-15-year-olds with at least one dose and Minnesota has topped 3 million residents with one or more shots. About 53 percent of the state’s total population is now completely vaccinated. 

While Minnesota’s vaccination rate recently showed an uptick, the pace has fallen dramatically since peaking in April and continues to stumble ahead. 

A line chart

At the current pace, it appears it will be late August or early September before Minnesota has 70 percent of residents 16 and older with at least one vaccine dose — a target officials once hoped to reach by July 1.

Graph showing when Minnesota is on target to vaccinated 70 of adults

Minnesota’s also seeing big regional gaps in vaccination rates, with most counties outside the Twin Cities region still below 70 percent of adults vaccinated. 

Map of Minnesota COVID-19 adult vaccination rate

Editor's note: With the pandemic largely in check, we’ll be ending our daily "Latest on COVID-19 in MN" story on Saturday. In its place, we'll write a weekly summary story that we'll post on Fridays. You'll still be able to find updated graphics and data on our COVID-19 story collection page. And you can count on us to continue covering the pandemic.

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