3 things to know:
About 10 percent of Minnesotans have received at least one vaccine dose.
Second community vaccination site opens Monday.
Key COVID-19 metrics holding steady or slowly falling.
COVID-19 vaccination efforts in Minnesota will ramp up this week, with a community vaccination site opening in Duluth on Monday and another set to open in southern Minnesota in the coming days.
They’ll join an existing community site in Minneapolis, as the state enters the second week of February with about 10 percent of Minnesotans having received at least the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
The state reached that milestone as of Sunday’s update from Minnesota Department of Health, reflecting data reported as of Friday. That’s just over 554,000 people. About 2.8 percent of Minnesotans — nearly 157,000 people — have received both doses to complete their vaccination.
And the state is slowly making progress in vaccinating people age 65 and older. Just over 27 percent of that age group in Minnesota have now received at least one dose of the vaccine.
But the pace of vaccinations continues to be a source of frustration, and state officials say they need more vaccine doses to meet the demand. Minnesota took a step back last week, with fewer vaccinations reported than the previous week.
Averaged over the past week, Minnesota is now averaging about 25,800 doses administered each day. That’s down from more than 31,000 a day a week ago.
Here are Minnesota’s current COVID-19 statistics:
6,299 deaths (10 new)
468,118 positive cases (914 new), 453,225 off isolation (97 percent)
6.8 million tests, 3.3 million Minnesotans tested (about 58 percent of the population)
10 percent of Minnesotans vaccinated with at least one dose
COVID-19 metrics continue to show Minnesota holding its own, with levels of new cases, hospital admissions and deaths at their lowest point since last fall.
Ten newly reported deaths raised Minnesota’s toll to 6,299 on Sunday. Among those who’ve died, about 63 percent had been living in long-term care or assisted living facilities; most had underlying health problems.
State officials continue to caution that the encouraging 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.
And they had urged people to avoid large gatherings to watch the Super Bowl on Sunday.
Health officials will be watching for any signs of rising case counts tied to the virus variants — and social gatherings — in the coming weeks.
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.
Caseloads 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.
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.
For those who received their first doses at one of the pilot sites, they will be contacted to schedule an appointment for their second shot.
Others who registered who have not yet been contacted will continue to have a chance to be selected for an appointment as more doses of the vaccine become available.
“We greatly appreciate Minnesotans’ continued patience as we’ve worked through our pilot program,” said Jason Metsa with the state’s emergency operations center.
State officials say 6,000 doses have so far been allotted to the Community Vaccination Program sites in Minneapolis and Duluth.
Vault Health, which runs several saliva testing sites around the state, is also managing the vaccination sites.
At the Duluth site, rows of tables have been set up, where nurses will administer the shots to people with appointments. Behind those tables, people will sit in rows of socially distanced chairs after they receive their shots. Vault Health’s Shawn Baxley says people must stay at least 15 minutes for observation.
“We have a medical doctor staffed along with various advanced practice clinicians like nurse practitioners,” Baxley said. “Every single person who gets a shot will get a one-on-one with one of those clinicians where they can ask questions.”
While people from around Minnesota were eligible to sign up for the lottery, it’s unclear from exactly how far away people will be traveling to Duluth, in subzero temperatures. Minnesota’s hospitals recently criticized the state’s lottery system for people ages 65 and older, saying the sites in Duluth and Minneapolis are out of reach for people who live in the western part of the state.
Metsa, with the state’s emergency operations center, said the state will continue to work with hospitals and other partners to get through the pandemic. He said the state won’t “leave a stone unturned” when it comes to getting the vaccine out as quickly as possible.
— Dan Kraker | MPR News
Minnesota hospitals say state’s vaccine distribution is at ‘untenable crossroads’: In a letter to the Minnesota Department of Health, a coalition of Minnesota’s hospitals say the state’s vaccine distribution system is inequitable, leaving some clinics and hospitals without doses to give to older, vulnerable patients.
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