ST PAUL, Minn. — Monday, July 26
- MDH to hold briefing on rising COVID numbers, Delta variant at 3 p.m. Monday; watch live below
- DFL lawmakers urge their GOP colleagues to help stop COVID disinformation
- Mayo vaccinologist says 4th COVID surge "entirely predictable"
- Ehresmann: 75% of new MN cases are Delta variant
Minnesota health officials are holding a briefing on the state's COVID-19 situation. They're expected to speak on the Delta variant, which MDH Infectious Disease Director Kris Ehresmann recently said accounts for 75% of Minnesota's new COVID-19 cases.
You can listen to the briefing below.
This is the first MDH briefing since June 2. Officials said they wanted to answer some questions they've fielded repeatedly.
MDH Commissioner Jan Malcolm said many COVID-19 metrics, like test positivity rate, are "comfortably" below the caution threshold. However, she said they're rising quickly enough to make health officials wary.
She said hospital bed use for COVID-19 patients has increased in recent days. The state's vaccination rates, however, have remained fairly stable.
Health officials have their eyes on a 70% vaccination rate in those 16 and older, but Malcolm said that's a milestone -- not an end goal. She said the vast majority of people showing up to the hospital with COVID-19 are unvaccinated. As of July 15, she said 99.9% of fully-vaccinated Minnesotans have not contracted COVID-19.
Malcolm said cases have begun to increase again after a persistent decrease. After reaching lows below 100 in previous weeks, Minnesota's new cases have risen into the 200s, 300s and 400s.
Malcolm cautioned that Minnesota has not reached "herd immunity," especially with several areas lagging in vaccination rates.
"We don't want to give the virus opportunity to continue to evolve in ways that could in the future be more troublesome," she said. She encouraged people who can get vaccinated to do so -- especially if they plan to join large gatherings like the Minnesota State Fair.
Asked if MDH plans to implement vaccination mandates for state or health department employees, Malcolm said there's nothing to announce today. She said health officials are in the "analysis phase," and there's no specific planning.
Ehresmann was asked what makes the Delta variant so widespread. She said Delta concerns officials because of its rapid rise -- it's "taking over" compared to the original virus.
Ehresmann also answered a question about Delta and kids who are too young to get vaccinated. She said children are more likely to pull through in general, but that colleagues in higher-transmission states have seen more serious cases in kids with the Delta variant.
Asked about nationwide concerns about Johnson & Johnson vaccines expiring, Malcolm said MDH has been watching the situation closely. To minimize loss, she said MDH uses older supplies first. Ehresmann added that Minnesota hasn't been able to order new Johnson & Johnson vaccines in recent weeks.
Editors note: The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) no longer shares COVID data on weekends. Numbers shared Monday reflect activity reported from Thursday at 4 a.m. through 4 a.m. Friday. Weekend COVID activity will be included in Tuesday's numbers.
Both new cases and hospitalization numbers continue to trend higher, a concern for state health officials eyeing what appears to be a resurgence of COVID-19.
Data shared by the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) Monday shows 424 new infections across the state of Minnesota, bringing total COVID cases to 609,810.
Hospitalizations are up over the 150 mark after dropping below 100 in recent days. The latest posting by MDH shows 153 people being treated for COVID on an inpatient basis, with 39 of those patients requiring ICU treatment. In total, 33,106 people have been hospitalized with COVID since the start of the pandemic.
State Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm and MDH Infectious Disease Director Kris Ehresmann will hold a COVID briefing with reporters at 3 p.m. Monday to discuss case numbers and the growing presence of the Delta variant. Ehresmann told KARE 11 last week that around 75% of the new cases in Minnesota involve the Delta, which is considered more transmissible and according to some studies, results in more severe symptoms.
Three more people have died from the effects of COVID, bringing Minnesota's total lives lost to 7,653.
While medical experts say the current spike in Delta variant-related cases is largely impacting those who are unvaccinated, Minnesota's vaccination numbers are not reflecting any rush to get immunized. The latest numbers posted by MDH (from Thursday) say 3,128,086 people have now received at least one dose of vaccine, 68.2% of those ages 16 and up. State statistics indicate 65.2% of those eligible have completed the COVID series, and are considered fully vaccinated.
Friday, July 23
COVID-19 cases in Minnesota continue to rise, with the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) reporting Friday that 375 more people across the state tested positive for the virus. That brings the total number of infections since the onset of the pandemic to 609,387.
Two more people have also died from COVID-19, bringing total fatalities to 7,650. Of those deaths 4,498 (59%) are tied to long-term care or assisted living settings.
Daily hospitalizations rose slightly, with 123 people being treated for COVID as of Thursday, 34 of them in the ICU. Total hospitalizations since the beginning of the pandemic now sit at 33,077, with 6,690 patients having required ICU care.
Of Minnesotans 16 or older, 68.1% have received at least one dose of the vaccine (3,123,226 people). MDH says 2,973,795 people have completed the COVID series (65.1%) and are considered fully vaccinated.