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Live updates: MDH reports 72 new COVID deaths and 5,313 cases

Here is the latest data on Minnesota's battle against COVID-19, and increased vaccination and testing across the state

ST PAUL, Minn. — Thursday, Dec. 2

  • MDH confirms a MN resident has tested positive for the new COVID omicron variant
  • Another federal medical team headed for Minnesota
  • Biden urging Americans to get vaccines, boosters, calls omicron variant "cause for concern" but not for panic
  • U.S. travel restrictions on south African countries go into effect due to omicron variant
  • WHO: Could take time to get "full picture" on omicron variant

1 p.m. 

A third federal medical team is headed for Minnesota to help a Twin Cities hospital deal with the challenge of the ongoing COVID surge.

Governor Tim Walz announced Thursday that a team of 14 doctors, nurses and support staff from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) National Disaster Medical System will deploy at M Health Fairview Southdale Hospital in Edina. 

The team is set to arrive Friday and is scheduled to stay for two weeks, with the option to extend the deployment. 

“Throughout this pandemic, teams across our health system have pushed through obstacles to find new and creative ways to deliver life-saving care to our community,” said Laura Reed, Chief Nursing Executive and Chief Operating Officer at Fairview Health Services, in a released statement. “Even now, more than 19 months into our fight against COVID-19, we continue to be presented with new challenges and a need for new solutions. A rise in COVID-19 cases, coupled with a significant need for acute care, has caused many hospitals across the country to reach capacity."

Federal medical support teams are currently assisting the staffs at Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis, and St. Cloud  Hospital. 

11 a.m.

On Thursday, health officials confirmed that the omicron variant infection was found in a Minnesotan with COVID-19. The vaccinated man from Hennepin County had recently traveled to New York City to attend the Anime NYC convention. According to MDH, the person's "symptoms have resolved." 

The first U.S. omicron infection was announced Wednesday in a California resident. Earlier this week, MDH said during a reporter briefing that new variants of the virus were expected.

Also on Thursday, MDH reported 72 new COVID deaths and 5,313 new cases in the state.

Credit: KARE 11

The new fatalities reported include a person between the age of 25 and 29 in Steele County. Minnesota's cumulative death total is at 9,554 since the pandemic began. Health officials say 4,963 of those deaths have taken place in long-term care or assisted living facilities.

The cumulative total COVID cases in the state is now at 921,249 since the start of the pandemic. 

According to MDH's latest data available, 1,549 people are being treated for COVID in hospitals around the state, with 1,204 in non-ICU beds and 345 in the ICU. 

Credit: KARE 11

Bed availability across the state remains extremely low, with just two ICU beds open in the entire northwestern corner of the state, only three in the northeast and two available in the entire metro hospital system. 

MDH reported 7,894,561 total doses of vaccine have been administered in the state, with 3,655,679 people age 5 and older having received at least one shot (70.1%). Of that number 3,373,236 people have completed their COVID series and are considered completely vaccinated (64.7%).

Credit: KARE 11
Credit: KARE 11

The state vaccine dashboard says of the total doses that have been administered in Minnesota, 59.2% are Pfizer, 36.8% are Moderna and 4.0% are Johnson & Johnson.

Wednesday, Dec. 1

2 p.m.

State Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm and top state health care executives discussed the situation with COVID-19 in Minnesota on Wednesday afternoon.
The state remains "firmly in the grip of the delta wave," Malcolm said to reporters at the start of the media briefing. She implored Minnesotans to mask up in public indoor settings, no matter where they are in the state.

Malcolm reiterated that the new variant omicron has been detected in California but said it had not been reported in Minnesota. But Malcolm warned, "be prepared for the variant to show up in Minnesota at some point."

MDH Infectious Disease Director Kris Ehresmann discussed some of the "promising" COVID therapies going on across the state, including monoclonal antibody treatments.

She said while the treatments are increasing, it is not a substitute for vaccinations.

Ehresmann added that 16 FEMA workers will soon be coming to Minnesota to help in the fight against the delta wave.

She said the FEMA team will help increase the number of Minnesotans receiving COVID treatments.

Malcolm and Ehresmann both wanted to remind everyone to remain vigilant against the virus as families continue to gather over the holidays.

Their briefing comes after reports of an additional 100 deaths from the virus over the holiday weekend. 

11 a.m.

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) reported 100 new COVID deaths Wednesday, after not processing that data over an extended Thanksgiving weekend.

The total number of COVID-related deaths in the state is now at 9,482.

Health officials say 4,945 deaths have taken place in long-term care or assisted living facilities.

Health officials also reported 3,580 new COVID cases in the state on Wednesday. 

Credit: KARE 11

The cumulative total cases in Minnesota is now at 915,942 since the start of the pandemic. 

According to MDH's latest data available, 1,562 people are being treated for COVID in hospitals around the state, with 1,206 in non-ICU beds and 356 in the ICU.

Credit: KARE 11

Total hospitalizations since the arrival of COVID have risen to 46,177.

MDH reported 7,857,144 total doses of vaccine have been administered in the state, with 3,651,596 people age 5 and older having received at least one shot (70.1%). Of that number 3,365,496 people have completed their COVID series and are considered completely vaccinated (64.6%).

Credit: KARE 11

The state vaccine dashboard says of the total doses that have been administered in Minnesota, 59.2% are Pfizer, nearly 36.8% Moderna and just 4% are Johnson & Johnson.

The MDH is planning to hold a news conference about the latest public health information regarding COVID-19 at 2 p.m. 

KARE 11 plans to cover it live on our YouTube page, with links posted on our other social platforms.

Tuesday, Nov. 30 

11 a.m.

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) reports thousands of new COVID infections Tuesday, as the state breaches over 900,000 total cases since the beginning of the pandemic.

The newly reported number of positive cases — 12,632 — includes data from multiple days over the holiday weekend that had not been processed until Tuesday. The new case load brings the total number of Minnesotans who have been infected by COVID-19 to 902,032.

Credit: KARE

MDH did not report any COVID-related deaths Tuesday, as they had not processed that data over the holiday. Health officials say that data will resume Wednesday. The number of COVID-related deaths in the state stands at 9,382.

Credit: KARE

The number of hospitalizations in Minnesota continues to trend upward, with 1,532 people currently being treated for COVID infections — 343 of those cases are in intensive care. According to MDH data, ICU adult bed availability remains low, with most regions of the state recording three open beds or fewer.

Credit: KARE

Staffed pediatric ICU bed availability is also low, with only 12 beds available in the entire state. Currently, there are zero staffed pediatric ICU beds available in central Minnesota.

Of the total population of Minnesotans 18 years or older, 75% have completed the initial vaccine series. Nearly 93% of adults 65 and older have gotten both shots, while 64% of kids ages 5 and older have been vaccinated. More than 80% of Minnesota adults have received at least one dose.

Data also shows that Minnesotans are opting for booster shots, with 1,093,281 total third doses administered to date. The total number of vaccines administered in Minnesota stands at 7,825,008.

Credit: KARE

Monday, Nov. 29 

5 p.m.

Education Minnesota announced in a statement Monday evening that two more school staff members have died from COVID-19, bringing the total number of school staff member deaths to 10 in the current school year.

The number of school staff members who have died this year from COVID has now surpassed the total number of deaths from the entire 2020 school year at eight.

The new data comes from the Minnesota Department of Health, which does not provide specific details about COVID-related deaths at schools.

“Minnesota has passed a tragic milestone with the deaths of two more school staff members,” said Denise Specht, president of Education Minnesota. “It’s past time for Minnesotans to come together and do everything possible, inside our schools and in our communities, to protect each other and slow the spread of this deadly virus.”

MDH reports that since the pandemic began, a total of two students and 18 school staffers have died from the disease. The data includes public, private and charter schools.

3 p.m. 

In a statement early Monday afternoon, MDH addressed the recently identified omicron variant.

"At this point no Omicron cases have been reported in Minnesota or the United States," the statement reads. "Fortunately, Minnesota has built one of the nation’s strongest genomic sequencing and variant surveillance systems. If an Omicron variant infection is found in Minnesota, we will share that information as soon as possible."

Governor Tim Walz also spoke to KARE 11 about the omicron variant on Monday, saying that while scientists are still learning about it, the path forward for Minnesota is still the same: "It’s vaccinations, it’s boosters, it’s testing, and then it’s protecting hospital capacity."

"So I think we keep an eye on it," Walz said. "But this is what we’ve talked about for a long time – creating a plan that lets us live with this instead of having a knee-jerk reaction. Our plan is exactly the same. What I would hope is that maybe we increase vaccination rates a bit. We’re still second in the nation in boosters. We’re moving up – I think we’re third in five-to-11 year olds. So, Minnesotans are doing it. I think that’s our key."

In its statement, MDH said that new variants of the virus are expected, so the "most important" thing people 5 and older can do to stay healthy is be fully vaccinated against COVID, and get a booster shot if eligible.

MDH also emphasized other actions Minnesotans can take to protect themselves against COVID-19 and its variants, including:

  • Wearing well-fitting masks in indoor public settings and crowded outdoor settings.
  • Getting tested if you have symptoms of COVID-19, have been or could have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 or have recently traveled.
  • Staying home if you are sick.
  • Washing your hands frequently.
  • Staying away from crowds.
  • Taking extra care to avoid exposure to the virus if you have medical conditions or live with someone with medical conditions.

11 a.m.

Minnesota is getting closer to 900,000 total cases of COVID-19, with thousands of new infections reported Monday.

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) did not update case data on Nov. 25 because of the Thanksgiving holiday. Monday's numbers include newly reported cases from 4 a.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 24 to 4 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 26.

MDH reported 4,511 new COVID cases Monday, bringing the total to 899,739 since the start of the pandemic.

Credit: KARE

Another 44 deaths linked to COVID-19 were also reported Monday. One of those deaths was a person between the ages of 35 and 39 in Pine County, and another seven deaths occurred among people in their 50s.

Credit: KARE

Twenty-nine deaths were reported in a private residence, 14 happened in long-term care or assisted living facilities, and one death was reported in a residential behavioral health facility. The total number of deaths in Minnesota is now at 9,382. 

Hospitalizations from COVID remain high, with 1,467 across the state being treated on an inpatient basis as of Friday. Of those patients 340 require treatment in the ICU. 

Intensive care capacity remains tight around the state, with two staffed adult ICU beds available in northeastern Minnesota, just one in west central Minnesota and seven in the entire Twin Cities metro system.

Credit: KARE

Staffed pediatric ICU beds are seeing similar challenges. Across the state, MDH reports there are only seven available: one in northeast Minnesota, zero in central Minnesota, three in the metro and two in the southeast region.

The department of health says 7,728,861 COVID-19 vaccines have been administered throughout Minnesota. Of those, 932,115 were third doses or boosters.

As of Tuesday, Nov. 23, 3,631,472 people ages 5 and older have received at least one dose of their COVID vaccine, 69.7% of those eligible for a vaccine. The number of people in that age group that have completed a vaccine is 3,346,984, or 64.2% of the eligible population.

Among children 5-11 years old, 106,657 have received at least one dose of their vaccine. Of those children, 190 have completed their vaccine series.