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Live updates: New community vaccination site to open in St. Cloud

Here is the latest on COVID-19 vaccination efforts and availability, case rates and deaths in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

ST PAUL, Minn. — Tuesday, March 16  

  • New community vaccination site to open in St. Cloud
  • Moderna begins trial to test vaccine on kids ages 6-12
  • Minnesota likely to hit half-million COVID cases this week
  • Minnesota adds CVS, Goodrich Pharmacy to Federal Retail Pharmacy Program network
  • Walz rolls back COVID restrictions, increases capacity at bars and restaurants, businesses, large venues

4:30 p.m.

Gov. Walz announced another community vaccination site at River’s Edge Convention Center in St. Cloud. 

According to a release from the governor's office, the new "large-scale, permanent" site will launch this week, joining similar sites in Minneapolis, Duluth, Rochester, Bloomington and St. Paul. 

Once it launches, the new site will offer vaccines to all groups that are currently eligible in Minnesota. That includes the newly-eligible Phase 1B groups, which include some essential workers, people with specific underlying conditions, and assorted other high-risk groups. 

MORE INFORMATION: Walz to open COVID-19 vaccinations to new groups

Previously, River’s Edge Convention Center was a pop-up location in the state’s Vaccine Pilot Program. Walz said about 4,800 doses of the vaccine were administered there between Jan. 21 and Feb. 22.

Walz urged Minnesotans to sign up for the state's Vaccine Connector tool. According to the release, Minnesotans will be contacted directly if they're selected for vaccine appointments.

RELATED: Sign up for Minnesota Vaccine Connector, be notified when you're eligible

RELATED: How to get a COVID-19 vaccine at your primary health care provider

11 a.m. 

Data released Tuesday by the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) show both the number of new COVID cases and deaths remain steady as the state moves to reopen, albeit in a new normal. 

MDH says 716 new cases of the virus were recorded in the past day, based on a low volume of 11,834 tests (10,662 PCR, 1,172 antigen) processed in private and state labs. A positive PCR test is considered a confirmed case, while a positive antigen test is looked at as a probable case. 

Minnesota has now reported 498,926 COVID cases, making it likely the state will reach the half-million mark by the end of the week. 

Two additional deaths are attributed to coronavirus, bringing fatalities to 6,749 since the start of the pandemic. Of those deaths 4,241, or 63% of them are associated with long-term care or assisted living facilities. 

Credit: KARE

Total hospitalizations due to COVID have risen to 26,402, with 5,443 of those patients needing care in the ICU. Of those diagnosed with the virus, 483,942 have improved to the point they no longer need to isolate. 

The state vaccine dashboard says 1,265,430 residents have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, 22.7% of Minnesota's population of 5.6 million. Of those people, 729,294 have completed the two-shot series. As of Sunday 75.7% of those 65 and older have been vaccinated at least once. 

Credit: KARE

When it comes to counties, Cook County in northeastern Minnesota leads the state in percentage of residents vaccinated with 46.5%. 

The largest grouping of COVID cases in Minnesota involves young adults ages 20 to 24, with 49,260 cases and three deaths, followed by those 24 to 29 with 44,428 cases and six deaths. the largest number of deaths (1,281) have occurred in people between 85 and 89.

Minnesota's four most populous counties also have the most COVID activity. Hennepin County has recorded 103,502 cases and 1,627 deaths, followed by Ramsey County with 43,924 cases and 829 deaths, Dakota County with 37,494 cases and 401 deaths, and Anoka County with 34,127 and 403 fatalities. 

Credit: KARE

Monday, March 15  

2 p.m. 

Minnesota health officials, along with local sports leaders, held a briefing about the state's COVID-19 situation. You can watch it below. 

On the call, MDH Assistant Commissioner Dan Huff said a cluster of COVID-19 variant cases connected to youth sports has health officials "very concerned." He said MDH has found more than 250 cases of the B.1.1.7 variant in more than two dozen Minnesota counties. 

Specifically, he spoke on a cluster of about 140 COVID-19 cases in the Carver County area, connected "primarily" through youth sports and recreation. Of the cluster, he said 32 have been confirmed to be the B.1.1.7 variant. Analysis is pending on another 67 of the cases, and the remaining cases could not be sequenced. 

Huff said due to the variant's potential to cause "setbacks" in Minnesota's fight against COVID-19, the state is responding "aggressively." He said health officials recommended a two-week county-wide pause of youth sports in Carver County. If teams choose not to pause, he said MDH recommends a rigid weekly testing protocol for all student athletes, and students in other activities that make social distancing difficult. MDH also recommends student athletes get tested three days before games. 

In Carver County specifically, Huff reminded listeners that a new temporary testing site has opened. For students across the state, he said testing every two weeks is still recommended.

"We're so close to the light at the end of the tunnel," Huff said. "But this thing's not over." He urged Minnesotans to continue following mitigation measures like testing, wearing masks and practicing social distancing. 

Local sports leaders also spoke on the call, highlighting the mitigation measures their organizations are following. Those leaders are Heidi Miler, who is the head coach of the WEST Express Swim Team; and Glen Andresen, who is the executive director of Minnesota Hockey. 

Kevin Borg, the superintendent of Westonka Public Schools, also spoke on the call.

RELATED: WWII vet spends COVID time weaving 400 hats for Salvation Army

11 a.m.

Data released by state health officials Monday reflects 829 new cases of COVID-19 recorded in the past day, pushing Minnesota closer to the dubious milestone of a half-million cases since the start of the pandemic. 

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) says total cases of the virus here have now reached 498,218, making it likely the state will reach the 500,000 mark by the end of the week. Of those total cases, 26,071 are backed by antigen tests. Health officials say a positive antigen test is considered a probable COVID case, while a positive PCR test is documented as a confirmed case. 

Testing volume was fairly low in the reporting period, with 16,417 tests (15,906 PCR, 511 antigen) processed at private and state labs.

Credit: KARE

One additional death from COVID was reported, bringing total fatalities attributed to the virus to 6,747. Of those deaths 4,241, or 63% of them are tied to assisted living or long-term care settings. 

As of Saturday 1,260,771 Minnesotans had received at least one dose of vaccine, 22.7% of the state's 5.6 million residents. Of people age 65 and older, 76% have received one or more immunizations. In the age bracket between 50 and 64, 22% have been administered one or more doses.

Credit: KARE

MDH says 724,692 people have completed the two-shot series. 

Hospitalizations are slightly up, with 260 people currently being treated for COVID across the state on an in-patient basis, with 59 of those patients in ICU. Bed availability is up a bit at hospitals in the Twin Cities metro, with 5% of non-ICU beds open as of Sunday. Total hospitalizations are at 26,295 since the start of the pandemic. 

MDH says 482,984 people diagnosed with COVID-19 have improved to the point they no longer require isolation.

Credit: KARE

Young adults between ages 20 and 24 make up the largest grouping of cases in the state with 49,206 and three deaths, followed by those 25 to 29 with 44.371 and six deaths. The largest age grouping of deaths involves people between 85 and 89, with 1,280 fatalities in just 6,411 cases. 

Hennepin County has recorded the most COVID activity with 103,329 cases and 1,627 deaths, followed by Ramsey County with 43,890 cases and 829 deaths, Dakota County with 37,433 cases and 400 deaths, and Anoka County with 34,081 cases and 402 deaths. 

Cook County has the least activity with 127 cases.

Credit: KARE

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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