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Live updates: MDH reports 1,708 new cases; 10 deaths

Here are the latest developments in Minnesota's battle against COVID-19, including the surge in cases related to the delta variant.

ST PAUL, Minn. — Friday, Aug. 20

  • CDC recommends COVID-19 booster shot for Pfizer, Moderna
  • MDH: Boosters likely available starting mid-September
  • 477 hospitalized for COVID-19 in Minnesota
  • 1,708 new COVID-19 cases in Minnesota, ten more deaths
  • Basilica Block Party requiring proof of vaccination or negative test
  • Minnesota State Fair recommends masks indoors and in outdoor crowds
  • Walz extends $100 gift card vaccination incentive program until Aug. 22

11 a.m.

The number of new infections and COVID-related hospitalizations continue to rise, according to new data from state health officials.

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) announced Friday that the number of COVID-19 cases in the state has increased by 1,708 bringing the cumulative total to 633,556.

Ten more people died, bringing the cumulative death total to 7,760 since the pandemic began. 

Health officials say 4,536 of those deaths have taken place in long-term care or assisted living facilities.

Credit: KARE 11

Officials say a total of 477 people are currently hospitalized and being treated for the virus on an inpatient basis. 

Also on Friday, health officials said 125 of those people are requiring ICU care.

Total hospitalizations since the arrival of COVID have risen to 34,372. 

Credit: KARE 11
Credit: KARE 11

MDH says 6,076,644 total doses of vaccine have been administered in the state, with 3,268,572 people age 16 and older having received at least one shot (70.8%). 

Of that number 3,059,394 people have completed their COVID series and are considered completely vaccinated (66.7%).

Thursday, Aug. 19

11 a.m. 

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) announced Thursday that the number of COVID-19 cases in the state has increased by 1,355, bringing the cumulative total to 631,858.

Eight more people died, bringing total fatalities from the virus to 7,750 since the pandemic began. Health officials say 4,534 of those deaths have taken place in long-term care or assisted living facilities.

Credit: KARE 11

Officials say a total of 473 people are currently hospitalized and being treated for the virus on an inpatient basis. Also on Thursday, health officials said that 121 people require ICU care.

Total hospitalizations since the arrival of COVID have risen to 34,293. 

Credit: KARE 11

MDH says 6,065,563 total doses of vaccine have been administered in the state, with 3,264,937 people age 16 and older having received at least one shot (70.7%). 

Credit: KARE 11

Of that number 3,056,221 (66.7%) people have completed their COVID series and are considered completely vaccinated.

Wednesday, Aug. 18

2:30 p.m. 

After CDC officials announced plans to offer COVID-19 booster shots to all Americans, Minnesota health officials say they're on board. 

The Minnesota Department of Health voiced its support for the plan in a Wednesday press release, calling vaccination "the key to ending this pandemic." 

It said based on current information from the CDC, boosters will likely be available starting the week of Sept. 20. MDH emphasized that the booster is recommended eight months after one's second Moderna or Pfizer dose.

"There is plenty of vaccine available," read MDH's press statement. "We stand ready to work with the federal government and our partners across the state to ensure that Minnesotans have equitable access to booster doses to provide the best protection against COVID-19."

MORE: CDC: COVID-19 booster shots recommended for all after 8 months

11 a.m.

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) announced Wednesday that the number of COVID-19 cases in the state has increased by 1,163, bringing the cumulative total to 630,512.

Five more people died, bringing the cumulative death total to 7,742 since the pandemic began. 

Health officials say 4,534 deaths have taken place in long-term care or assisted living facilities.

Officials say as of Tuesday, a total of 461 people were hospitalized and being treated for the virus on an inpatient basis. Of those patients, 125 required ICU care. Tuesday's total is the highest since May 15, 2021. 

Total hospitalizations since the arrival of COVID have risen to 34,216. 

MDH says 6,054,186 total doses of vaccine have been administered in the state, with 3,259,492 people age 16 and older having received at least one shot (70.6%). Of that number, 3,051,172 people have completed their COVID series and are considered completely vaccinated.

Tuesday, Aug. 17

2 p.m.

Health and education officials are holding a media briefing call about the state's COVID-19 situation. They're expected to address the Minnesota Department of Health's new no-fee COVID-19 testing options for schools in the upcoming school year

You can listen to the call on KARE 11's YouTube page. 

On the call, MDH Commissioner Jan Malcolm said Minnesota now has no counties in the "low" COVID-19 transmission range, and only 8 in the "moderate" range. Also of concern are the state's test positivity rates and rising hospitalization numbers. 

Malcolm said COVID-19 isn't just concerning for adults -- it's a problem for children, too. She said MDH is seeing a "striking" rise in the percentage of cases in young people. 

Malcolm said while severe symptoms are less likely in children, protecting them from the virus is important for the entire community's health.

Minnesota Department of Education commissioner Heather Mueller spoke on the new no-fee COVID-19 testing options for students. She said along with the options, students would need the entire community's help to lower the spread and keep in-person learning safe. 

"Our schools can't do this alone," Mueller said. 

RELATED: Minnesota recommends weekly COVID-19 testing for students, offers no-fee testing programs for schools

MDH Infectious Disease Director Kris Ehresmann spoke on reports that the FDA will authorize third "booster" doses for all vaccinated people. The FDA has already authorized a third dose for immunocompromised people. 

Ehresmann said MDH has not yet received any information from federal officials about third doses for all. 

Ehresmann was asked whether officials were concerned about non-immunocompromised people getting a third dose by claiming they are immunocompromised. 

She said officials ask that people who aren't authorized for a third shot wait until it's recommended. Additionally, she said getting a "booster" before it's recommended may actually be a disservice to oneself, as it might be incorrectly timed for the best protection. 

However, Ehresmann said MDH hasn't seen this happening in Minnesota. 

Asked about the state fair, Malcolm said MDH has released recommendations for large events. She said people should consider the risk levels of themselves and their loved ones when deciding whether to attend. 

12:30 p.m.

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) will offer no-fee COVID-19 testing options for schools in the upcoming school year, as delta variant cases increase across the country.

The announcement comes as MDH is recommending that all unvaccinated students and staff get tested weekly for COVID-19 due to current transmission rates; sports and extracurricular participants are urged to get tested more often. Vaccinated students and staff are urged to get tested if they're feeling symptoms, or if they're exposed to someone with COVID-19.

Schools will be offered a variety of PCR and antigen testing options by swab or saliva, with grants available to help schools cover the costs.

State health and education officials are expected to talk in more detail about the recommendations in a 2 p.m. conference call with reporters. That call will be streamed live on the KARE 11 YouTube page and on kare11.com.

11 a.m.

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) announced Tuesday that the number of COVID-19 cases in the state has increased by 3,054, bringing the cumulative total to 629,354.

MDH no longer shares data on weekends, so numbers released on Tuesdays reflect reports from 4 a.m. Friday to 4 a.m. Monday.

Three more people died, bringing the cumulative death total to 7,737 since the pandemic began. Health officials say 4,533 of those deaths have taken place in long-term care or assisted living facilities.

All three of the deaths happened in Hennepin County. Two people were in their 50s, and another person in their 70s.

Credit: KARE 11

Officials say a total of 434 people are currently hospitalized and being treated for the virus on an inpatient basis. Of those patients, 115 require ICU care. 

MDH hospital bed use data includes Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Most of the hospitalizations remained over 400, except for Saturday at 399.

Credit: KARE 11

Total hospitalizations since the arrival of COVID have risen to 34,051. 

MDH says 6,044,915 total doses of vaccine have been administered in the state, with 3,254,019 people age 16 and older having received at least one shot (70.5%). Of that number 3,047,575 people have completed their COVID series and are considered completely vaccinated.

Credit: KARE 11

State health officials plan to hold a news conference call Tuesday afternoon to discuss the current situation with COVID and the delta variant.

Monday, Aug. 16  

The number of people hospitalized for COVID-19 in Minnesota has risen above 400 for the first time since mid-May, health department data now shows. 

As of Friday (the newest hospitalization data available), the Minnesota Department of Health said 411 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 in Minnesota hospitals. Of those patients, 109 had symptoms severe enough for the ICU. 

Since the beginning of the pandemic, nearly 34,000 in the state have been hospitalized with the virus.

Credit: KARE

Meanwhile, MDH reported 1,470 new COVID-19 cases. The state's new case total has remained over 1,000 for every reporting day since Aug. 6. MDH also reported five more deaths from the virus. 

Since the beginning of the pandemic, 7,734 people have lost their lives to COVID-19 in Minnesota. A total of 626,310 have tested positive for the virus. 

Credit: KARE

As MDH no longer provides a situation update on weekends, Monday's data on new cases and deaths is current as of 4 a.m. Friday. 

As for the vaccination effort, MDH said 3,238,588 people in the state have gotten at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose. Most of that group (3,039,749) are considered fully vaccinated against the virus. According to MDH's vaccination website, just over 70% of the state's eligible 16+ population has been at least partially vaccinated. 

Sunday, Aug. 15

Gov. Tim Walz announced Sunday that the $100 COVID-19 vaccine reward program is being extended through Sunday, Aug. 22.

According to a press release from the governor's office, 55,456 Minnesotans have signed up to receive the $100 Visa gift card since Aug. 4. Anyone who has received their first shot of the vaccine July 30th or later is eligible for the reward.

Minnesotans can register for the incentive through the state's website. Registration will remain open until 11:59 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 22.

Vaccine appointments can be made through the state's Vaccine Connector or the MDH COVID-19 hotline at 833-431-2053. Health care providers and local pharmacies may also have availability.

RELATED: $100 vaccine incentive now available to Minnesotans

Friday, Aug. 13

2 p.m.

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.

11 a.m. 

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.

Credit: KARE

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.

Credit: KARE