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Live updates: More than 4,500 new COVID cases, 44 deaths reported after holiday backlog

Here is the latest data on Minnesota's battle against COVID-19, and increased vaccination and testing across the state.

ST PAUL, Minn. — Monday, Nov. 29

  • Biden urging Americans to get vaccines, boosters, calls omicron variant "cause for concern" but not cause for panic
  • U.S. travel restrictions on south African countries go into effect due to omicron variant
  • WHO: Could take time to get "full picture" on omicron variant
  • Burnsville-Eagan-Savage schools in distance learning through Dec. 3 as cases spike
  • MDH, M Health Fairview increase monoclonal antibody treatment appointments

5 p.m.

Education Minnesota announced in a statement Monday evening that two more school staff members have died from COVID-19, bringing the total number of school staff member deaths to 10 in the current school year.

The number of school staff members who have died this year from COVID has now surpassed the total number of deaths from the entire 2020 school year at eight.

The new data comes from the Minnesota Department of Health, which does not provide specific details about COVID-related deaths at schools.

“Minnesota has passed a tragic milestone with the deaths of two more school staff members,” said Denise Specht, president of Education Minnesota. “It’s past time for Minnesotans to come together and do everything possible, inside our schools and in our communities, to protect each other and slow the spread of this deadly virus.”

MDH reports that since the pandemic began, a total of two students and 18 school staffers have died from the disease. The data includes public, private and charter schools.

3 p.m. 

In a statement early Monday afternoon, MDH addressed the recently identified omicron variant.

"At this point no Omicron cases have been reported in Minnesota or the United States," the statement reads. "Fortunately, Minnesota has built one of the nation’s strongest genomic sequencing and variant surveillance systems. If an Omicron variant infection is found in Minnesota, we will share that information as soon as possible."

Governor Tim Walz also spoke to KARE 11 about the omicron variant on Monday, saying that while scientists are still learning about it, the path forward for Minnesota is still the same: "It’s vaccinations, it’s boosters, it’s testing, and then it’s protecting hospital capacity."

"So I think we keep an eye on it," Walz said. "But this is what we’ve talked about for a long time – creating a plan that lets us live with this instead of having a knee-jerk reaction. Our plan is exactly the same. What I would hope is that maybe we increase vaccination rates a bit. We’re still second in the nation in boosters. We’re moving up – I think we’re third in five-to-11 year olds. So, Minnesotans are doing it. I think that’s our key."

In its statement, MDH said that new variants of the virus are expected, so the "most important" thing people 5 and older can do to stay healthy is be fully vaccinated against COVID, and get a booster shot if eligible.

MDH also emphasized other actions Minnesotans can take to protect themselves against COVID-19 and its variants, including:

  • Wearing well-fitting masks in indoor public settings and crowded outdoor settings.
  • Getting tested if you have symptoms of COVID-19, have been or could have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 or have recently traveled.
  • Staying home if you are sick.
  • Washing your hands frequently.
  • Staying away from crowds.
  • Taking extra care to avoid exposure to the virus if you have medical conditions or live with someone with medical conditions.

11 a.m.

Minnesota is getting closer to 900,000 total cases of COVID-19, with thousands of new infections reported Monday.

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) did not update case data on Nov. 25 because of the Thanksgiving holiday. Monday's numbers include newly reported cases from 4 a.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 24 to 4 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 26.

MDH reported 4,511 new COVID cases Monday, bringing the total to 899,739 since the start of the pandemic.

Another 44 deaths linked to COVID-19 were also reported Monday. One of those deaths was a person between the ages of 35 and 39 in Pine County, and another seven deaths occurred among people in their 50s. 

Credit: KARE

Twenty-nine deaths were reported in a private residence, 14 happened in long-term care or assisted living facilities, and one death was reported in a residential behavioral health facility. The total number of deaths in Minnesota is now at 9,382. 

RELATED: What do we know about Omicron variant? And why are scientists so worried?

Hospitalizations from COVID remain high, with 1,467 across the state being treated on an inpatient basis as of Friday. Of those patients 340 require treatment in the ICU. 

Intensive care capacity remains tight around the state, with two staffed adult ICU beds available in northeastern Minnesota, just one in west central Minnesota and seven in the entire Twin Cities metro system. 

Credit: KARE

Staffed pediatric ICU beds are seeing similar challenges. Across the state, MDH reports there are only seven available: one in northeast Minnesota, zero in central Minnesota, three in the metro and two in the southeast region.

The department of health says 7,728,861 COVID-19 vaccines have been administered throughout Minnesota. Of those, 932,115 were third doses or boosters.

As of Tuesday, Nov. 23, 3,631,472 people ages 5 and older have received at least one dose of their COVID vaccine, 69.7% of those eligible for a vaccine. The number of people in that age group that have completed a vaccine is 3,346,984, or 64.2% of the eligible population.

Among children 5-11 years old, 106,657 have received at least one dose of their vaccine. Of those children, 190 have completed their vaccine series.

Friday, Nov. 26  

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) is reporting more than 4,000 new COVID cases and in excess of 50 deaths as the virus continues to impact communities across the state. 

No numbers were reported on Thanksgiving (Thursday) so data released Friday reflects reports between 4 a.m. Tuesday and 4 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 24. 

MDH says 4,131 new infections were reported, bringing total cases in the state to 895, 229 since the onset of the pandemic. The new cases are based on results from 54,440 tests (40,278 PCR, 14,162 antigen) processed in private and state labs.

Health officials consider a positive PCR test a confirmed COVID case, while a positive antigen/quick test is considered a probable case.

The case positivity rate has risen to 11% as of Nov. 17, the most recent calculation available. State health officials begin to worry when the positivity percentage rises above 5%.

Credit: KARE

Another 56 people have lost their lives to the virus, bringing Minnesota's total fatalities to 9,338. Among those deaths are two people in their 30s from Carlton and Dakota Counties, and one in their mid-to-late 40s from Ramsey County.

MDH says 4,913 of Minnesota's COVID deaths (53%) are associated with long-term care or assisted living facilities. 

Hospitalizations from COVID remain high, with 1,462 across the state being treated on an inpatient basis as of Wednesday. Of those patients 330 require treatment in the ICU. Bed availability remains extremely tight, with zero ICU beds available in northeastern Minnesota, just one in northwestern Minnesota and the Twin Cities metro, and three in central Minnesota.

Credit: KARE

The number of children between the ages of 5 and 11 getting vaccinated continues to push Minnesota's percentages upward. As of Tuesday 106,657 kids in that age group had received at least one shot, 21% of those eligible. Overall, 3,631,472 of those age 5 and up had been vaccinated at least once (65.3%) with 3,346,984 of those having completed their series to be considered fully vaccinated (60.2%).

Credit: KARE

Of the 7,728,861 doses administered in Minnesota, 59.2% are Pfizer, 36.8% Moderna and just 4% Johnson & Johnson.