Updated: 11:25 a.m.
3 things to know:
Vaccination pace rebounds but still below prior week
Hospitalizations down to September levels
Officials caution against attending big Super Bowl parties
Nearly 10 percent of Minnesotans have now received at least the first shot of the COVID-19 vaccine — but anyone hoping for a skyrocketing trend line had to be disappointed this week.
After an early-week stumble, Minnesota’s COVID-19 vaccination counts have increased for four consecutive days, topping 36,000 in Saturday’s report. But the numbers still aren’t matching levels from last week.
The 36,502 newly administered vaccine doses reported Saturday by the Minnesota Department of Health compare to more than 44,000 doses reported the previous Saturday.
At the current rate, officials estimate it could take four months to vaccinate all Minnesotans 65 and older.
Meanwhile, a coalition of Minnesota hospitals sent a letter to state Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm on Friday, saying the state’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution system is hurting patients. They’re asking the Health Department to give more shots to health care providers to distribute — noting that some clinics haven’t received doses in days, leaving them unable to vaccinate the oldest, most vulnerable patients.
In a statement, Malcolm said MDH notified the hospital association in an email Friday that there would be changes in a “randomized process” for small and mid-size providers. Read more here.
Here are Minnesota’s current COVID-19 statistics:
6,289 deaths (17 new)
467,217 positive cases (1,030 new), 452,183 off isolation (97 percent)
6.8 million tests, 3.3 million Minnesotans tested (about 58 percent of the population)
9.5 percent of Minnesotans vaccinated with at least one dose
Pandemic picture holds steady, mostly positive
COVID-19 metrics continue to show Minnesota holding its own in a hopeful way, especially on hospitalizations.
Friday’s Health Department data showed disease trends angling in the right direction despite an uptick in active caseloads. Known, active cases stand at 8,745, similar to early October levels and still down significantly from around 50,000 in late November.
Counts also continue to look good on hospitalizations — 362 Minnesotans were hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Thursday, with 82 needing intensive care. ICU cases remain at levels not seen since September.
Seventeen newly reported deaths raised Minnesota’s toll to 6,289 on Saturday. 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 467,217 total confirmed or probable cases so far in the pandemic, including 1,030 reported Saturday. 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.
State officials continue to caution that the pandemic is not over yet, noting the new virus strains arriving in the United States, including including two cases of the Brazilian strain and 16 of the U.K. variant in Minnesota.
They’re also trying to dissuade people from attending big Super Bowl gatherings this Sunday given the ongoing worries about spreading the virus.
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.
‘Everyone is going to have to be patient’
State public health leaders have been pleading for patience over the pace of COVID-19 vaccinations.
More than 525,000 Minnesotans received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine as of Saturday’s report, which included data through Thursday. That’s about 9.5 percent of the state’s population. About 2.7 percent had completed a full vaccine series.
Concerns continue to simmer over the speed of the effort — and the confusion it’s generated as people struggle to find out when and where they can get a shot.
Earlier this week, officials said it could take up to four months to vaccinate Minnesotans 65 and older if the feds don’t deliver more vaccine faster; about 20 percent of that priority population has received at least their first dose.
“We are getting Minnesotans vaccinated safely and quickly as supplies come to us,” Kris Ehresmann, the state’s infectious disease director, told reporters Tuesday. But “we just don’t have enough vaccine and everyone is going to have to be patient.”
Minnesota’s getting some 84,000 more doses next week, which will be shared among tribal nations, people over age 65, educators, group home residents and others.
Nearly half will go to health care workers who have yet to be vaccinated even though they’re in a high-priority category, Ehresmann said earlier this week, estimating about 80,000 state health care workers have yet to be vaccinated.
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.
Vaccination weekend set for Minneapolis Convention Center
The state of Minnesota has launched a new, large-scale vaccination site at the Minneapolis Convention Center.
The state expects to vaccinate 9,500 people, including people 65 and older, teachers and child care providers through the weekend. Additional sites are opening in Duluth and southern Minnesota in coming days, and will remain open indefinitely.
The sites will be operated by Vault Health, which runs the state’s saliva testing program.
Dan Feehan, a former Minnesota congressional candidate, is now leading Vault’s national vaccine program, including in Minnesota.
“This is incredibly exciting. People are waiting and people are looking for an opportunity like this: Not just to get their vaccination, but to get it easily, efficiently and at a high enough throughput so we can get to a lot more people,” he said.
Vault Health randomly drew names for appointments from a list of people who preregistered for slots during the initial rollout of the vaccine pilot program in January, Feehan said.
— Catharine Richert | 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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