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Live updates: New COVID cases top 1,600 over three days, 4 more deaths

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

Tuesday, Aug. 3  

  • M Health Fairview, Allina Health requiring employees to get vaccinated for COVID
  • Multiple schools, venues and business reinstate mask or vaccine policies
  • Vikings face QB shortage due to COVID protocols
  • State offering $100 Visa gift cards to eligible Minnesotans who get their first COVID vaccine dose between July 30 and Aug. 15
  • MDH recommends schools follow CDC mask recommendations

Tuesday, Aug. 3

Data released Tuesday by the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) reports 1,667 new COVID-19 infections over the past three days.

In that same time period, four more deaths were reported in the state.

Since the start of the pandemic, 614,990 people in Minnesota have tested positive for the virus and 7,678 have died.

Because MDH no longer provides COVID-19 updates over the weekend, Tuesday's data updates include several days' worth of data. This data is current as of 4 a.m. Monday.

In total, 248 people are currently hospitalized with the virus and 75 patients are being cared for in the ICU.

So far, 3,170,942 Minnesotans 16 and older have received at least one dose of the COVID vaccine, or 69% of that age group. Of that population, 3,004,629 people are considered fully vaccinated, or 65.7%.

On Monday, MDH Commissioner Jan Malcolm said the delta variant continues to fuel new COVID cases in the state, and it's estimated that 85% of new local infections are being caused by the strain.

According to the CDC, 45 counties in Minnesota are currently at high or substantial risk for transmitting the virus, and the agency has recommended people in these areas wear masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status. 

Monday, Aug. 2

2 p.m.

Health officials held a briefing call Monday to talk about Minnesota's fight against COVID-19 and the current concerning spike in cases. MDH Commissioner Jan Malcolm said the delta variant continues to fuel new COVID-19 cases in Minnesota, with an estimated 85% of local new cases being caused by the variant. She added that more Minnesota counties are being added to the CDC's list of areas with high or substantial levels of transmission. 

RELATED: The CDC recommends wearing masks indoors in these Minnesota counties

"This is a very opportunistic virus; it finds our weak spots and takes advantage of them," Malcolm said. She encouraged people to get vaccinated against the virus and pointed to Minnesota's $100 incentive program for new vaccinations. 

Malcolm said breakthrough cases are rare, and cases where vaccinated people later go to the hospital for severe COVID-19 are even rarer. 

She called masking a "smart, preventative measure" that keeps you and other people safe as the "game-changing" delta variant continues to circulate. 

"You frankly might not know who around you could be vulnerable," Malcolm said. "If you're vaccinated, it is very unlikely that you will contract COVID-19 but in rare cases, CDC has found that people who are fully vaccinated can still transmit the virus to others even if they don't develop symptoms themselves. This small risk, plus the fact that we have a very contagious delta variant circulating widely, plus the fact that in many parts of the country fewer than half of the eligible people are vaccinated, this makes masking just a smart, preventive measure to reduce the risk for all of us and cut down on transmission. Just that extra layer of protection against transmission."

State Epidemiologist and MDH Medical Director Dr. Ruth Lynfield spoke on new COVID-19 treatment options for high-risk patients. She said late last week, the FDA expanded its emergency use authorization for the COVID-19 monoclonal antibody therapeutic REGEN-COV. It can now be used as a post-exposure prophylaxis (prevention after being exposed to the virus) for patients at high risk of severe COVID-19. 

Lynfield said the treatment is not a substitute for vaccination. More information on eligibility and usage is available on the FDA's website. 

Malcolm was asked about the effectiveness of new masking requirements by the University of Minnesota and some Target stores, since most other businesses aren't currently requiring masks. She said the "best" protection is to get vaccinated as soon as possible, but that masking is a "prudent extra layer of protection." 

Malcolm said a statewide mask mandate isn't an option, but that local jurisdictions are able to issue their own requirements.

Health officials also spoke on Monday's COVID-19 data update from MDH, which included six additional deaths. Lynfield said only one of those deaths was recent, and that the others happened in the past but were recently reported.  

11 a.m. 

The Minnesota Department of Health Monday announced 632 new COVID cases and six more deaths from the virus. 

Since the pandemic first came to Minnesota, 613,325 people have been diagnosed with COVID-19. More than 7,670 people in the state have died from it. 

As MDH no longer provides COVID-19 updates during the weekend, this data is current as of 4 a.m. Friday.

MDH officials say the more contagious delta variant is driving the spread of COVID-19 in Minnesota -- a trend echoed nationwide. Last week, the CDC recommended even vaccinated people wear masks in counties where COVID-19 spread is high or substantial. That includes more than 30 counties in Minnesota. 

Following the CDC's new guidelines, the University of Minnesota announced a decision Monday to reinstate its systemwide indoor masking requirement. The university's president also said COVID-19 vaccinations are strongly encouraged. 

The CDC also recommended masking in schools nationwide. MDH seconded those guidelines, but said the decision to require masks is up to individual districts. 

RELATED: Minnesota health officials say schools should follow CDC mask guidance

As of Thursday in Minnesota, 3,158,646 people have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Of that group, 2,997,637 are considered fully vaccinated. 

As of Friday, 229 people were in Minnesota hospitals with COVID-19. Of that group, 68 had symptoms severe enough for the ICU. 

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