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Live updates: COVID hospitalizations remain high, MDH reports 2,645 new cases

Here is the latest data on Minnesota's battle against COVID-19, and the effort to vaccinate every state resident against the virus.

ST PAUL, Minn. — Friday, Sept. 17

The Minnesota Department of Health continues to report high numbers of new COVID-19 cases, as bed space fills up around the state and the number of virus-related deaths creeps closer to 8,000.

MDH data shows 2,645 new coronavirus cases were reported Friday, bringing the statewide total since the pandemic began to 681,613.

The state also reported 13 new deaths. One of those deaths, reported in Benton County, was a person between the age of 35-39. The rest of the deaths happened in people ages 55 and older.

The overall death toll in Minnesota is currently at 7,893.

Hospitalizations across the state also remain high. As of Sept. 16, MDH says 719 people are currently being treated for COVID, with 211 of those patients needing ICU care. The rest, 508 patients, are being treated in non-ICU beds.

Earlier this week marked the first time since December 2021 that the number of COVID-19 patients in ICU beds has risen over 200. Based on MDH data, 36,755 people have been hospitalized for COVID treatment.

COVID vaccinations continue to slowly climb in Minnesota. As of Sept. 15, 6,329,527 vaccine doses have been administered throughout the state. People 16 and older with at least one vaccine dose total 3,368,735, or 72.7% of that population. There are 3,187,694 people 16 and older with a full vaccine series, or 69.1% of that population.

Thursday, Sept. 16

11 a.m.

On Thursday, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) reported 2,484 new cases of COVID-19 in the state, with an additional 14 people dying from the virus.

The cumulative total cases in the state is now at 678,978 since the start of the pandemic. 

MDH also reported 14 deaths from the virus on Thursday, bringing the cumulative death total to 7,970 since the pandemic began. 

Health officials say 4,599 deaths have taken place in long-term care or assisted living facilities.

The fatalities reported Thursday include a person between the ages of 25 and 29 in Dakota County. 

According to MDH's latest data available, 719 people are being treated for COVID in hospitals around the state, with 510 in non-ICU beds and 209 in the ICU. This week is the first time since December 2021 that the number of COVID-19 patients in ICU beds has risen over 200.

Total hospitalizations since the arrival of COVID have risen to 36,645. 

MDH reported 6,320,203 total doses of vaccine have been administered in the state, with 3,362,569 people age 16 and older having received at least one shot (72.6%). Of that number 3,179,113 people have completed their COVID series and are considered completely vaccinated (68.9%).

Wednesday, Sept. 15

2 p.m.

Minnesota health officials held a briefing call on the state's COVID-19 situation. They addressed a new, voluntary app for storing and proving vaccination records. 

You can watch the full call on YouTube. 

MDH Commissioner Jan Malcolm addressed Minnesota's report of 41 additional COVID-19 deaths, including a backlog of newly-verified data. She said on the call that without the backlog of data, Minnesota would have reported 13 deaths. She said Wednesday's newly-reported cases and deaths are the final "batch" from a data review that started earlier in 2021. 

The data review involved epidemiologists reviewing "incomplete" reports from long-term care facilities and calling those facilities to confirm them. The newly-verified cases and deaths include data from as far as 18 months ago.

She also pointed out that Minnesota has the highest number of COVID-19 patients in ICUs since last year. She said with more beds occupied by COVID-19 patients, there's less resources available for others who critically need care. 

While current concerns echo those from earlier days of the pandemic, Malcolm said it's different this time. Instead of resources like ventilators, hospitals are worried about staffing shortages. 

Malcolm said so far, the State Fair has been linked to 153 cases and four hospitalizations. She said it will be several weeks before health officials have a full picture of the fair's COVID-19 impact. Malcolm added that the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is associated with 33 Minnesota cases. 

Malcolm said there's additional concerns around those events that may not show up in direct data -- someone who went to the fair and is considered a "primary" case may go on to infect many others. 

Malcolm addressed a new app partnership between MDH and the "Docket" app. She said people with a "Minnesota Immunization Information Connection" record can choose to use the app to access their immunization record quickly. 

She emphasized that it is "absolutely not required" for Minnesotans to use the app to access their MIIC record. 

11 a.m.

Minnesota's count of COVID-19 deaths just went up by 41 -- but they weren't all from recent days. 

The Minnesota Department of Health reported 41 new deaths Wednesday, but cautioned that that number includes previously unverified deaths associated with long-term care. MDH said the deaths were verified through a data review project that began early this year. 

For context, MDH reported 12 additional deaths Tuesday and 11 on Monday. 

As of Wednesday, more than 7,950 people have lost their lives to COVID-19 since the pandemic arrived in Minnesota. 

MDH also reported 2,736 new COVID-19 infections Wednesday -- another number including previously unverified data from long-term care facilities. A total of more than 676,500 COVID-19 cases have been reported in Minnesota. 

After a sudden spike to nearly 750 Monday, the number of hospital beds used by COVID-19 patients across the state remained above 700. On Tuesday, the latest hospital data available, MDH said 718 people were in Minnesota hospital beds with COVID-19. Of that total, 208 were in intensive care units -- the same as Monday. 

This week is the first time since December 2021 that the number of COVID-19 patients in ICU beds has risen over 200. MDH Commissioner Jan Malcolm said Monday that Minnesota hospitals are facing the same pressure that is felt nationwide. 

"There are fewer health care workers on the job today than there were last year, due to the extreme stress and burnout they have faced for over 18 months now," Malcolm said in a press statement issued to KARE 11. "Despite the extraordinary collaborations happening across the whole health care system, it is getting harder for some hospitals to find open, staffed beds at the right level of care for critically ill patients—whether due to heart attack, stroke, or COVID."

As for the state's vaccination effort, MDH said more than 3,362,500 people have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Most of them -- more than 3,179,000 -- are considered fully vaccinated against the virus.