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Latest on COVID-19 in MN: Vaccination pace flattens; conditions improve – Minnesota Public Radio News

Feb 10, 2021 | Uncategorized | 0 comments

3 things to know:

  • Hospitalizations down; new case counts modest

  • Daily vaccination counts struggle to gain traction

  • Bars, restaurants press to fully reopen by May 1


Updated 2:12 p.m.

Wednesday’s COVID-19 data continues to offer Minnesotans reasons to be encouraged and frustrated.

The pandemic metrics remain steady in a good way.

Hospitalization counts, for instance, are encouraging — 317 Minnesotans were hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Tuesday; 78 needed intensive care. Known, active caseloads came in at 7,342, the lowest in nearly five months. New cases reported Wednesday were a modest 677.

Active, confirmed COVID-19 cases in Minnesota

But the vaccination pace is also steady, and that’s a problem. The trend line remains down and flattening following a late January surge.

Newly reported COVID-19 vaccine doses in Minnesota

Minnesota’s seven-day average now sits 24,374 daily doses administered, down from more than 29,000 per day a week ago. About 10.5 percent of Minnesotans had received at least one dose as of Monday, with about 3 percent completely vaccinated.

A line chart.

The state on Tuesday slipped to 16th among states in doses administered per 100,000 people, according to data collected by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Hoping to speed the effort, the Health Department has opened mass vaccination sites in the Twin Cities, Rochester and Duluth. Officials, though, say the challenge remains getting the federal government to supply the state with more vaccine.

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.

A bar graph.

The state 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 will be posted through the state’s online vaccine finder.

Most residents of Minnesota long-term care facilities should receive their second doses of COVID-19 vaccine by end of February, Gov. Tim Walz said Tuesday.

Eleven reported deaths on Wednesday raised Minnesota’s toll to 6,319. 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 469,905 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.

New COVID-19 cases per day in Minnesota

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.

New COVID-19 related deaths reported in Minnesota each day

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 89,000 since the pandemic began, including more than 47,000 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 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.

New COVID-19 cases by Minnesota region

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.

New COVID-19 cases per capita by race

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 press to fully reopen by May 1

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.


Latest developments

Youth sports mask challenge fails

Critics of the state’s mask mandate have lost another court challenge, this time to the requirement for student athletes.

Let Them Play, a group of parents and high school sports supporters, asked a federal judge to lift Gov. Tim Walz’s order requiring athletes to wear masks during some sports, like hockey and basketball. They also challenged spectator limits.

Federal Judge Eric Tostrud denied the request for an injunction. He called the objections sincere and reasonable, and also said evidence masks add to the risk of injury was credible. But he said the question is not for courts. In his opinion he wrote political powers, like governors and lawmakers, should weigh the risk of spreading a deadly disease and the benefits of participating in organized sports.

The ruling also noted government has extraordinary power to address public health threats

It’s the latest in several Minnesota mask challenges to fail in courts, including the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals.

— Tim Nelson | MPR News


Top headlines

DFLers debate mask law while GOP seeks to undo Walz’s COVID-19 powers: Minnesota lawmakers are taking a close and mostly partisan look at the emergency orders DFL Gov. Tim Walz began issuing last year in response to COVID-19.

Mobile ‘strike team’ brings COVID vaccine to the most vulnerable: Because of their age and their close living arrangements, the nuns at St. Benedict’s Monastery are at high risk from the coronavirus. But traveling to a clinic or hospital to get a vaccination would be a challenge for many of them. So, the vaccine came to them.

What’s to blame for Minnesota’s slow vaccination pace? After a one-time surge in the vaccination numbers late last month, Minnesota is now on its eighth straight day of downward-trending vaccination rates. Why aren’t we getting more shots into arms? What’s leading the low rates? Our data reporter David H. Montgomery offers some insights into the numbers.

‌For‌ ‌those‌ ‌with‌ ‌underlying‌ ‌health‌ ‌conditions,‌ ‌getting‌ ‌a‌ ‌COVID vaccine‌ ‌remains‌ ‌elusive: As Minnesota receives more shots and expands vaccine access, many people with underlying health conditions that may put them at higher risk of getting a severe case of COVID-19 are wondering when it will be their turn to get a shot.

You make MPR News possible. Individual donations are behind the clarity in coverage from our reporters across the state, stories that connect us, and conversations that provide perspectives. Help ensure MPR remains a resource that brings Minnesotans together.

Source

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