3 things to know:
Daily vaccination counts continuing to frustrate
Key COVID-19 metrics looking good
Bars, restaurants pressing to fully reopen by May 1
Updated 4:22 p.m.
The newest COVID-19 data continues to show Minnesota on a positive path, with active cases and hospital admissions holding at or near their lowest levels since the fall.
The state Health Department reported 564 newly confirmed or probable cases Monday — the lowest number in nearly five months.
The pace of vaccinations, however, continues to frustrate.
State officials say they need more vaccine supplies to meet the demand. Minnesota took a step back last week, with fewer vaccinations reported than the previous week. The trend appears to be continuing this week.
On the upside, Walmart and Thrifty White pharmacies will be administering about 16,000 doses of the vaccine this week for Minnesotans 65 and older at locations across Minnesota. Those doses are part of the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program.
Gov. Tim Walz also said he is reallocating 8,000 doses for Walgreens to vaccinate Minnesotans 65 and older at 40 locations. Information on scheduling appointments at Walmart, Thrifty White, and Walgreens is going to be available through the state’s online vaccine finder.
Minnesota averaged about 24,000 daily doses administered over the past seven days, down from nearly 32,000 a day a week ago. About 10.1 percent of Minnesotans have received at least one dose as of Saturday, with about 2.8 percent completely vaccinated.
Data collected by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention rank Minnesota 14th among states in doses administered per 100,000 people.
Three reported deaths on Monday raised Minnesota’s toll to 6,302. 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 state’s recorded 468,682 total confirmed or probable cases so far in the pandemic. 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.
Hospitalization counts remain encouraging — 330 Minnesotans were hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Sunday, with 80 needing intensive care. ICU cases remain at September levels.
The newest numbers come as Minnesota’s hospitality industry pushes officials to reopen the state completely by May 1.
State officials continue to caution that the hopeful trends are still tenuous, noting the new virus strains arriving in the United States, including two cases of the Brazilian strain and 16 of the U.K. variant 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 — nearly 89,000 since the pandemic began, including nearly 47,000 among people ages 20 to 24.
The number of high school-age youth confirmed with the disease has also grown, with more than 36,000 total cases among those ages 15 to 19 since the pandemic began.
Although less likely to feel the worst effects of the disease and end up hospitalized, experts worry youth and young adults 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.
Cases are trending down across all regions of the state following a late December, early January blip.
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 people of color continue to be hit hardest.
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.
Bars, restaurants push for May 1 full reopening
Hospitality industry leaders joined a trio of Republican lawmakers on Monday to outline a proposal that aims to fully lift businesses restrictions by May 1.
The plan would set criteria for a phased reopening that would include off-ramps if infection and hospitalization rates shoot up.
Resorts and event centers need certainty in particular because many are losing bookings to other states months into the future as Minnesota keeps its capacity limits intact, said Rep. Dave Baker, R-Willmar.
“Time is ticking,” Baker said. “Every week that goes by is another week we’re closer to a busy season when we can get outside. The businesses need some support here.”
Representatives of two hospitality trade groups said they’ve been given no indication in regular meetings with the Walz administration when restrictions will next be relaxed to allow for more customers to be served at once or for larger events to be permitted.
COVID-19 in Minnesota
Data in these graphs are based on the Minnesota Department of Health’s cumulative totals released at 11 a.m. daily. You can find more detailed statistics on COVID-19 at the Health Department website.
The state’s second community vaccination site opens Monday in Duluth, with 1,500 people ages 65 and over expected to receive their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
The people selected for appointments were chosen at random from among the more than 225,000 people who registered with the state last month for a chance to be selected.
The site at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center joins another site that opened last week at the Minneapolis Convention Center. State officials say they plan to open a third site this week in southern Minnesota.
While most Minnesota seniors will get vaccinated through their health care providers at hospitals, clinics or pharmacies, state officials have said these community sites are needed to reach people who don’t have established relationships with providers.
The large-scale vaccination sites replace nine pilot clinics the state set up last month to administer vaccines to people age 65 and older who preregistered with the state’s lottery system.
— Dan Kraker | MPR News
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