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Live updates: Gov. Walz, community leaders speak on equitable COVID-19 vaccination efforts

Here are the latest case numbers and trends in the battle against COVID-19 in Minnesota and Wisconsin, and the effort to vaccinate against the virus.

ST PAUL, Minn. — Tuesday, Feb. 23 

  • Gov. Walz to discuss equitable vaccinations for all Minnesotans
  • Hy-Vee added to Minnesota pharmacy vaccine network
  • U.S. passes grim milestone, 500,000 COVID-19 deaths
  • More than 750,000 in Minnesota have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose; nearly 14% of population
  • New cases remain under 1,000, deaths in single digits
  • Delayed vaccines arriving in Minnesota after inclement weather, other issues

2 p.m.

Gov. Tim Walz held a 2 p.m. press conference to speak on Minnesota's efforts to equitably distribute vaccines, especially to communities hit hardest by the coronavirus's effects. 

Walz said the state has partnered with more than 30 "COVID-19 Community Coordinators" -- organizations that will connect their communities to information about the virus and about testing and vaccination opportunities.

In a press release, the governor's office said CCCs will also provide information specific to their communities, such as through different languages.

You can watch the governor's press conference below.

The groups served include communities of color, American Indian communities, LGBTQ+ communities, and Minnesotans with disabilities. You can find a full list -- and information about finding a coordinator for your needs -- on the state's website.

11 a.m.

Numbers released by the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) reflect 513 new cases of COVID-19, and one more death from the virus.

The numbers appear to be in line with a continuing trend of numbers released on Tuesday being the lowest of the week. MDH spokesman Doug Schultz says that is due to testing volume that is historically low on the weekends -- those results are reported on Tuesdays. 

Testing volume reported in the past 24 hours was low, with just 9,498 tests (8,653 PCR, 845 antigen) processed in private and state labs. That is just over half the test results reported Monday. Minnesota has now recorded 480,091 COVID cases since the pandemic began. 

One reported death brings the state total caused by coronavirus to 6,434. 

Credit: KARE

The number of people currently hospitalized with COVID across the state as of Monday is 269, with 54 of those patients in the ICU. That's up a bit from yesterday's total of 235. Total hospitalizations have climbed to 25,528, with 5,276 people requiring care in the ICU.

MDH says 467,147 people once diagnosed with the virus have passed the point where they are required to isolate. 

The virus has been most deadly for people between the ages of 85 and 89, with 1,220 deaths in just 6,222 cases. That means 20% of people from that demographic who recorded a positive test have died from COVID. 

Young adults make up the largest group of coronavirus cases, with people 20 to 24 accounting for 47,865 cases and three deaths, followed by 25 to 29-year-olds with 42,951 cases and six deaths.

Hennepin County has reported the most COVID activity with 99,559 cases and 1,576 deaths, followed by Ramsey County with 42,700 cases and 795 deaths, Dakota County with 37,723 cases and 383 deaths, and Anoka County with 32,968 cases ad 383 deaths. That list follows Minnesota's most populous counties in precise order. 

On the vaccine front, 762,089 Minnesotans have received at least one dose, with 362 of those having completed the two-shot COVID-19 series as of Sunday. That brings the percentage of residents who have received at least one vaccination to 13.7 percent. State health officials expect those numbers to ramp up as shipments of vaccine delayed by last week's winter storms pour in, along with this week's expected doses. 

Credit: KARE

At this point 88% of providers are meeting a state goal to administer vaccines within three days of receiving them. 

On Tuesday afternoon, Gov. Walz will be speaking about a state push to make sure the vaccination process is equitable for Minnesotans of all colors, backgrounds and economic levels. KARE 11 will share that event live on our social platforms and on kare11.com. 

Credit: KARE

RELATED: Gov. Walz to highlight need for equal access to COVID vaccines

Monday, Feb. 22

MDH Infectious Disease Director Kris Ehresmann said after shipping delays due to inclement weather in the southern U.S., Minnesota is seeing a "return to normal" in terms of vaccine shipments. She said the state's delayed Moderna vaccines will arrive in the next few days, and that appointments and scheduling will normalize soon. 

Ehresmann added that the state did not lose any allotted doses due to the weather delays. She said she anticipates that the coming week will be a busy one for vaccine administration.

Ehresmann cautioned Minnesotans about returning to gyms and fitness centers, asking those who may be exposed or in a high-risk group to avoid going. Emphasizing that asymptomatic spread is still a concern, she said those who work out in gyms should mask up and wipe down the equipment they use.  

MDH Commissioner Jan Malcolm was asked about Gov. Tim Walz's goal to have all school teachers vaccinated by March 8. She said according to a projection from last week, about a quarter of the state's educators have been vaccinated. Malcolm said that number does not include all of those who have been offered vaccines.

RELATED: Hy-Vee added to Minnesota pharmacy vaccine network

11 a.m.

Minnesota continues to make progress on COVID-19 vaccination efforts despite supply chain problems caused by recent winter storms in the southern U.S.

Data released Monday by the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) says as of Saturday, 13.7% of the state's population has received at least one vaccination (759,747 people) with 356,911 having completed the two-dose series. 

A number of clinics were closed late last week and into the weekend due to the southern storms affecting distribution of the vaccine nationwide. 

RELATED: MN National Guard and Governor Walz track down 9,000 missing COVID vaccine doses

Of those vaccinated, residents ages 65 make up the largest group with 358,139 having received one or more doses, followed by those between 18 and 49 with 251,891. That group largely represents health care professionals, first responders and front line workers. 

Providers report that 88% of the vaccine they are receiving is being administered within three days, just under the state goal of 90%.

Credit: KARE

MDH is reporting 561 new cases of COVID-19, based on results from 17,666 tests (16,474 PCE, 1,192 antigen) processed in private and state labs. That testing volume is relatively low, but typical for a Monday.

Health experts consider a positive PCR test a confirmed coronavirus case, while a positive antigen test is considered a probable case. 

Minnesota has now recorded 479,591 COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic. Of those, 22,732 are associated with antigen tests.

Credit: KARE

One death was reported in the last day, bringing total fatalities in Minnesota to 6,433. Of those deaths 4,038, or 63% of them are linked to long-term care or assisted living settings. 

As of Sunday, 235 people across the state were hospitalized for COVID, the smallest number in months. Of those patients, 48 of them were in ICU. Total hospitalizations in Minnesota due to the virus now sit at 25,478.

Credit: KARE

MDH says 466,311 people once diagnosed with the virus have passed the point where they are required to isolate.

People between the ages of 20 and 24 account for Minnesota's largest group of cases with 47,826. Three people from that demographic have died of COVID. The largest group of deaths involves those between 85 and 89, with 1,220 fatalities in 6,218 diagnosed cases. 

Cook County in northeastern Minnesota has recorded the least COVID activity with 119 cases and zero deaths. Hennepin County has experienced the most, closing in on 100,000 cases (currently 99,448) with 1,576 deaths, followed by Ramsey County with 42,658 cases and 795 deaths, Dakota County with 35,669 cases and 383 deaths, and Anoka County with 32,939 cases and 383 fatalities.

KARE 11’s coverage of the coronavirus is rooted in Facts, not Fear. Visit kare11.com/coronavirus for comprehensive coverage, and kare11.com/vaccine for answers to all of your questions about vaccines. Have a question? Text it to us at 763-797-7215. And get the latest coronavirus updates sent right to your inbox every morning. Subscribe to the KARE 11 Sunrise newsletter here. Help local families in need: www.kare11.com/give11

The state of Minnesota has set up a data portal online at mn.gov/covid19.

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