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Live updates: MDH reports 1,612 new COVID-19 cases, reflecting state's cautious optimism

Here are the latest updates on COVID-19 in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

ST PAUL, Minn. — Tuesday, Jan. 5

  • Walz to announce looser indoor dining restrictions Wednesday
  • High school, youth sports practices resume 
  • MN health care facilities prepare to administer second round of COVID-19 vaccines
  • UK first country to roll out Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine

Numbers released by the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) Tuesday reflect the cautious optimism expressed by health officials, that restrictions enacted by the state have both COVID-19 cases and deaths trending downward.

MDH says 1,612 new cases were reported in the past day, based on the results of 15,666 tests (14,553 PCR, 1,113 Antigen) processed in private and state labs. Health officials consider a positive PCR test a confirmed COVID case, while a positive Antigen test is considered a probable case.

Testing volume was low again, likely due to carryover from the New Year's holiday. MDH says a total of 425,261 people have tested positive for coronavirus since the pandemic came to Minnesota. Of those positives, 15,225 were from Antigen tests. 

An additional 18 people died from the virus in the past 24-hour reporting period, bringing total fatalities to 5,461. MDH says 3,513 of those deaths, or 64% of them, are linked to long-term care of assisted living facilities. 

Credit: KARE

Currently 842 people are hospitalized with COVID-19 across Minnesota, with 155 of those patients requiring beds in the ICU. In the Twin Cities metro, availability of non-ICU beds remains very low at just 3.6%. ICU beds are slightly better with 63 beds available at metro hospitals (9.2%). Total hospitalizations since the start of the pandemic are now at  22,337, with 4,708 requiring treatment in the ICU. 

MDH says 406,667 people who at one time tested positive for coronavirus have recovered to the point they no longer require isolation. 

Young adults make up the largest grouping of COVID cases with those ages 20 to 24 accounting for 43,066 cases, nearly 5,000 more than the next closest group (people ages 25 to 29). The largest group of fatalities involves people between 85 and 89, with 1,034 deaths in just 5,616 diagnosed cases. 

Hennepin County has recorded the most COVID activity in the state, with 88,377 cases and 1,408 fatalities, followed by Ramsey County with 37,987 cases and 698 deaths, Dakota County with 31,134 cases and 285 deaths, and Anoka County with 29,635 cases and 335 deaths.

Cook County in northeastern Minnesota has seen the least COVID activity, with 108 cases and zero fatalities. 

Credit: KARE

Monday, Jan. 4

2 p.m.

While new COVID-19 cases trended downwards for several days at the start of 2021, Monday's numbers suggest another uptick. 

Minnesota health officials gave a live briefing on the state's COVID-19 situation, which you can listen to below.

Health commissioner Jan Malcolm said vaccine distribution numbers are promising, but it will take time for hospitals and other providers to administer them.

"We're getting there," Malcolm said. She said MDH expects the pace of distribution and administration to increase as the vaccination process continues.

She said Minnesota's COVID-19 situation has improved since the beginning of Gov. Walz's current dial-back period, but that some indicators still showed high risks of transmission in the state. She added that due to the possibility of holiday gatherings, cases could jump considerably in the next weeks. 

"We can't let our guard down," she said. 

She noted that Monday's case total includes about 650 cases from an earlier backlog. New cases, she said, remain stable but have increased slightly in the last week. Malcolm said due to holiday-related low testing volumes, MDH is seeing some "noise" that makes interpreting the data difficult. 

MDH Infectious Disease Director Kris Ehresmann said MDH is focused on "immunizing for impact" due to limited vaccine supplies in this stage of distribution -- making sure vaccines go to the populations where they will have the greatest effects, like health care workers and elderly skilled nursing patients. 

"Minnesota is on track," she said, adding that Minnesota's vaccination patterns are similar to other states of similar sizes. 

When asked about vaccine refusal rates, Ehresmann said MDH has no hard data. However, she said people who refuse vaccinations will have the opportunity to change their minds when subsequent doses are given.

Based on vaccine allocation data, Malcolm added that Minnesota expects to complete Phase 1 vaccinations by the end of the month.

RELATED: Walz to announce looser indoor dining restrictions Wednesday

11 a.m.

After several days with new COVID-19 cases trending downwards, numbers shared by state health officials Monday suggest an uptick in infections. 

The Minnesota Department of Health says 3,148 people were reported as testing positive in the past day. Those cases are based on the results of 9,991 tests (8,709 PCR and 1,282 Antigen) processed in private and state labs. That testing volume is quite low, and was likely impacted by the New Years holiday.

Health officials consider a positive PCR test a confirmed COVID-19 case, while a positive Antigen test is considered a probable case. 

Thirteen more Minnesotans have lost their lives to coronavirus, bringing total fatalities to 5,443 since the onset of the pandemic. Of those deaths 3,506, or 64% of them, are linked to assisted living or long-term care facilities.

Credit: KARE

Currently 810 people are hospitalized with COVID-19 across Minnesota, with 156 of those patients requiring beds in the ICU. In the Twin Cities metro, non-ICU beds remain at a premium with only 132 available, a 3.6% vacancy rate. ICU beds are slightly better with 7.4% available. 

Total hospitalizations since the virus came to Minnesota now stand at 22,180, with 4,675 of those patients requiring treatment in the ICU. Health officials say 405,556 people who at one time tested positive for COVID-19 have recovered to the point they no longer require isolation.

Credit: KARE

Young adults continue to make up the largest number of Minnesota's coronavirus cases, especially those in their 20s. People between the ages of 20 and 24 account for 42,926 cases and three deaths, while those from 25 to 29 number 38,125 cases and six fatalities. 

MDH will be watching case numbers closely, as high school and youth sports teams begin practicing Monday after a pause of more than a month. In almost all cases those young athletes will be required to wear masks during both practices and games. 

RELATED: Youth sports practices begin Monday with COVID guidelines

Minnesota's largest grouping of fatalities involves those between 85 and 89, with 1,034 deaths in 5,596 cases. 

Hennepin County has reported the most COVID activity in the state with 88,062 cases and 1,407 deaths, followed by Ramsey County with 37,849 cases and 698 deaths, Dakota County with 31,018 cases and 284 deaths, and Anoka County with 29,531 cases and 334 deaths. 

Cook County in northeast Minnesota continues to report the least COVID activity with 108 cases and zero deaths since the pandemic began.