ST PAUL, Minn. — Friday, Aug. 13
- MDH reports 1,336 new COVID cases, nearly 1,000 more than July 13
- Walz says more than 70% of Minnesota 16+ are partially vaccinated
- Mayo Clinic: Delta surge could accelerate in Minnesota
- CDC now recommends masks indoors in 72 Minnesota counties
Noting that there's been "a lot of news" surrounding the current situation of COVID-19, State Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm kicked off a briefing with reporters Friday to talk about the continuing spike in cases involving the "dominant" delta variant.
Malcolm stated that sampling of COVID specimens indicates that more than 95% of Minnesota's new cases involve the delta variant. She says more than half of Minnesota counties are now listed as high transmission areas, with only seven listed with moderate transmission status.
The commissioner says just as worrisome is that cases are up in Minnesota's most vulnerable populations, especially care facilities. Malcolm shared that in congregate living settings there was a marked jump in both staff and resident cases. In just the last week 98 infections of staff have been reported, and 59 involving residents.
Children are another significant area of concern for health officials: Malcolm noted that during the fall COVID surge of 2020 kids age 9 and under made up 5% of total cases. In the last two months that age group accounted for nearly 10% of total COVID cases. She said hospitalization rates for younger children have also jumped, although they remain fairly low with 2.2% of cases landing a child in the hospital.
Malcolm stated that 3,700 infections involving children under 19 have been reported since June 5, with half of them in just the last two weeks. That acceleration in cases is due almost solely to the delta variant, raising concerns about the coming school year.
"COVID-19 is a risk for people of all ages," Malcolm reiterated. "No parent wants their child to suffer needlessly."
State Infectious Disease Director Kris Ehresmann addressed the approach of the Minnesota State Fair with a warning about the escalated dangers of large gatherings with the highly-transmissible delta strain. She advised that it is advisable for people in high-risk groups and those who care for them to stay away from large gatherings of people altogether. Ehresmann says those who do decide to attend the fair, a concert or other large-scale events should take a layered approach:
- Get vaccinated as soon as possible, and remember that a person is not fully protected until two weeks after final dose.
- Mask up when indoors in a large group, whether vaccinated or not.
- Get tested if showing any signs of COVID, or if exposed to someone who tests positive.
- Test for COVID three to five days following a large scale event with possible exposures.
On a more positive note, Ehressman noted a recent rise in vaccination rates, likely due to rising concern about the transmissibility and more severe symptoms of delta . She said first doses among unvaccinated Minnesotans are up 129% over levels a month ago.
"It's certainly worth celebrating the milestones if not the finish line," Ehresmann said, emphasizing that the battle with COVID-19 is not over.
The wave of new infections and COVID-related hospitalizations shows no signs of subsiding, based on data released Friday by the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH).
Health officials say 1,336 new COVID cases were recorded in the last day, bringing total infections to 624,851 since the start of the pandemic. One month ago on July 13 MDH reported 386 cases, nearly 1,000 less than today. The department said last week that the spike in cases is related directly to the highly-transmissible delta variant, which now accounts for at least 81% of Minnesota's new cases.
State Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm and Infectious Disease Director Kris Ehresmann will update the COVID situation in a live briefing with reporters Friday afternoon at 1 p.m. We will carry it live at kare11.com, and on our social platforms.
Hospitalizations also continue to rise, getting closer and closer to the 400 mark. As of Thursday, 389 people were being treated for COVID on an inpatient basis, including 110 in the ICU. The total number of people who have required hospitalization for COVID now stands at 33,930.
The virus has claimed six more lives, bringing Minnesota fatalities to 7,729. Of those deaths 4,533 (59%) are associated with assisted living or long-term care facilities. Those between the ages of 85 and 89 have been hardest hit, with 1,384 deaths in just 6,924 diagnosed cases.
MDH says 70.1% of eligible residents age 16 and older are at least partially vaccinated (3,231,088 people), with 3,035,371 people considered completed vaccinated after completing their COVID shot series (66.3%).
The Department of Health does say that the number of vaccinations going to children between 12 and 17 is on the upswing, thanks to a new campaign launched two weeks ago called "Vax to School." MDH says more than 20,000 students in that age bracket have received their first dose of Pfizer vaccinate, and should be completely immunized by the start of the school year.
Along with the unvaccinated, children have been among the groups most impacted by the spread of the delta variant, and both educational and health officials have expressed concern about what will happen when children go back to school in enclosed classrooms.
The reminds parents that students who get vaccinated through Sunday, Aug. 15 are eligible for a $100 Visa Gift card. Reward requests must be submitted to a special page on the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) website by 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 15, 2021. Vaccine information will be subject to verification by MDH.
In total more than 6 million doses of vaccine have now been administered to Minnesotans (6,010,902 doses). Of the doses given 57.1% are Pfizer, 38.4% are Moderna, and 4.5% Johnson & Johnson.
Thursday, Aug. 12
Governor Tim Walz announced Thursday that Minnesota has surpassed 70% of adults 16 years of age and older with at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose.
The state vaccine dashboard says as of Tuesday 3,224,475 Minnesotans 16-plus are partially immunized, and adds that 3,031,445 of those people (66.2%) have completed their COVID series and are considered fully vaccinated. Health officials say they have administered more than 6 million total doses.
According to the governor's office, the number of first doses administered per week is up 129% from one month ago.
"Minnesotans are continuing to answer the urgent call and do their part to end this pandemic," said Governor Walz in a news release. "The data is clear: vaccines are our key to fighting COVID-19 and the delta variant, and millions of Minnesotans rolled up their sleeves to protect themselves, their families, and their communities. While we are making progress, there is no time to waste in making sure every Minnesotan who can get the shot does so. It will save lives."
Back on July 1, Governor Walz announced that Minnesota surpassed 70% of adults 18 years of age and older with at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose.
Minnesota is currently leading the Midwest in the percentage of the overall population who have completed their COVID vaccination series (54.4%) and residents 65-and-older with at least one vaccine dose (93%), according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"Reaching the goal of 70% of people 16 and older vaccinated is good progress, but it's not the finish line. Continuing to increase vaccination rates among those who are eligible, along with other steps to slow the spread, is incredibly important to protect our communities—especially those who are more vulnerable or not able to get vaccinated yet," said Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm in a news release. "The Delta variant is far more contagious and spreads easily among unvaccinated people, which underscores the importance of getting as many people vaccinated as possible as we approach fall and back to school."
The importance of getting Minnesotans vaccinated, whether they are hesitant or simply unreached, is underlined by data released by state health officials Thursday. The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) recorded 1,318 new COVID infections in the past day, bringing total cases to 623,527 since the start of the pandemic. MDH has said sampling shows more than 81% of new cases are of the delta variant.
The new cases are based on results from 27,321 tests (21,173 PCR, 6,148 antigen) processed in private and state labs. MDH considers a positive PCR test a confirmed COVID case, while a positive antigen test is considered a probable case.
Eight more people have died from the virus, bringing fatalities to 7,723. Of those deaths 4,533 (59%) are tied to long-term care or assisted living settings.
Hospitalization numbers are climbing steadily as the delta variant spreads, with 377 people being treated for COVID on an inpatient basis as of Wednesday. MDH says 103 of those patients require ICU care.