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Live updates: First Johnson & Johnson doses arrive in MN

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. — Wednesday, March 3    

  • Walz: First doses of Johnson & Johnson vaccine have arrived in Minnesota
  • MDH reports 17 COVID deaths, most since Feb. 12
  • Biden says all U.S. adults should have vaccine access by end of May
  • Vaccines administered last Thursday, Friday exceed 127,000 doses

2 p.m.

Gov. Walz announced that the first doses of Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine have arrived in Minnesota. You can watch his full speech here or on  KARE 11's YouTube page. 

In a press release, the governor's office said Minnesota will receive 45,200 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine this week. Immunizations will begin after doses are shipped to Minnesota providers. 

In a briefing Tuesday, MDH Commissioner Jan Malcolm said the Johnson & Johnson vaccine's unique characteristics, like less stringent handling measures and single-dose administration, make it a good possibility for people who may have difficulty returning for their second dose. However, she said all of the authorized vaccines will be available for eligible Minnesotans.

Malcolm said people who can get a vaccine should take the type they are offered to avoid having to "get back in line" and wait for their preferred type. 

11 a.m.

Data released Wednesday by the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) show the state's COVID-19 numbers remaining fairly low with the exception of fatalities, which bumped into the double-digits.

Health officials say 17 people died of the virus during the last reporting period, the most since Feb. 12 when 19 fatalities were recorded. Minnesota's total COVID-related deaths have now risen to 6,507 since the beginning of the pandemic.

New COVID cases bumped up a few hundred from Tuesday, with MDH reporting 788 people that tested positive. The jump mirrors the normal weekly pattern, where the volume of testing and case numbers see an uptick starting Wednesday and generally peaking Friday. 

The new cases are based on results from 20,512 tests (17,505 PCR, 3,007 antigen) processed in private and state labs. That's almost double the testing volume reported Tuesday.

Credit: KARE

Current hospitalizations remain steady with 243 people being treated in hospitals across the state as of Tuesday, 57 of them sick enough to require ICU treatment. Bed availability is up across the Twin Cities hospital system, with a 4.8% vacancy rate (177 open beds).

Total hospitalizations since the virus arrived in Minnesota are up to 25,863, with 5,340 of those patients in the ICU.

MDH reports that 473,252 people that at one time tested positive for coronavirus no longer need to isolate.

The state vaccination dashboard says as of Monday 928,963 people had received at least one dose of vaccine, 16.7% of Minnesota's population. Of those people 484,383 have completed the two-shot immunization series. On Monday providers immunized 17,941 people across the state, a number that will grow significantly as new shipments of arrive, including an anticipated 42,000 doses of the recently approved Johnson & Johnson vaccine. 

Credit: KARE

Of Minnesotans ages 65 and up, 54.4% have received at least one immunization against COVID.

Governor Tim Walz has scheduled a press conference Wednesday at 2 p.m., where he will detail the arrival of Johnson & Johnson vaccine doses in Minnesota. KARE 11 will carry it on our website, and share on our social media platforms. 

Young adults ages 20 to 24 are linked to the largest group of coronavirus cases with 48,408 and three deaths. COVID has had the most devastating impact on Minnesota's oldest residents, as one would anticipate: Those ages 85 to 89 have suffered 1,231 deaths in 6,255 cases, followed by those 80 to 84 with 1,059 deaths in 7,989 cases, and 90 to 94-year-olds with 1,059 deaths in 4,218 cases.

The least COVID activity in the state has been recorded by Cook County in northeast Minnesota, with just 118 cases. Hennepin County has reported the most with 100,913 cases and 1,586 deaths, followed by Ramsey County with 43,165 cases and 803 deaths, Dakota County with 36,375 cases and 392 deaths, and Anoka County with 33,335 cases and 388 fatalities. 

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Tuesday, March 2

2 p.m.

Officials from the Minnesota Department of Health gave an update on the state's COVID-19 situation, which you can watch on here on KARE 11's YouTube page. 

Late last month, Gov. Tim Walz released a plan for vaccination stages in Minnesota, with expanded access beginning once at least 70% of Minnesotans who are 65 and older are vaccinated. MDH Commissioner Jan Malcolm said the state expects to reach the 70% benchmark by the end of March, and that a document giving more details on the vaccination stages is now available. About 53% of Minnesota's seniors have received at least one dose of the vaccine. 

Malcolm announced some updates to the state's plan for who gets vaccinated when. 

  • Type 1 diabetes has been added as an underlying medical condition for phase 1b tiers 3 and 4. Type 2 diabetes was already included. 
  • Language added for phase 1b, tier 2, which includes "People with rare conditions or disabilities that put them at high risk." Malcolm said these conditions might be too uncommon to have been listed in the CDC's or Minnesota's recommendations. She said physicians can have some flexibility in getting vaccines to people with uncommon high-risk conditions. 
  • Two more types of essential workers added to phase 1b, tier 3. 

These changes are reflected in MDH's online documentation. 

Asked if the new Johnson & Johnson vaccine could speed the vaccination process up in Minnesota, Malcolm said the timeline is a "good planning tool," but officials have "every hope" that it can be accelerated as supply increases.

Malcolm was also asked if the state has any unique distribution plans for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine due to its one-dose process and less stringent handling processes. She said MDH will evaluate the possibilities. She said it would be a good vaccine to consider for those who might find it difficult to come back for another dose, and for some other situations. 

However, Malcolm emphasized that all of the authorized vaccines will be available to anyone in the state who's eligible. She said people who can get a vaccine should take the type they are offered to avoid having to "get back in line" and wait for their preferred type.

Asked about recent cases of Minnesotans getting vaccinated in South Dakota and vice versa, Malcolm said some crossover is "appropriate and necessary," like when a Minnesotan's primary care clinic is in a different state. She said a small amount of crossover likely would not make a big difference in vaccine availability.

11 a.m. 

New numbers from the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) reflect 443 additional cases of COVID-19 in the past 24-hour reporting period, along with four more deaths from the virus. 

Tuesday numbers are generally the lowest of the week, as they are culled from tests done over the weekend when volume is quite low. The new COVID cases are based on results from just 10,915 tests (9,507 PCR, 1,408 antigen) processed in private and state labs. Testing volume reported at the end of the week can sometimes be four times that volume or more. 

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

Tuesday's additions bring Minnesota's total COVID cases to 485,655 since the start of the pandemic. 

Four more deaths from coronavirus brings state fatalities to 6,490. Of those deaths 4,057, or 63% of them, are linked to assisted living or long-term care facilities.

Credit: KARE

Vaccination numbers reported Tuesday are also rather low. As of Sunday, 908,590 Minnesotans have received at least one immunization, after just 6,763 people received COVID vaccine that day. That inches the percentage of Minnesotans who have had at least one shot up to 16.3%. 

MDH says 472,789 people have completed the two-shot  series.

Credit: KARE

The good news is that providers are exceeding a state goal to administer 90% of the vaccine supplies they receive in three days time. Currently, those providers are using 92% of their vaccine in that time. 

Hospitalizations for COVID-19 are up slightly as of Monday, with 243 people being treated on an inpatient basis across Minnesota. Of those patients 57 are in ICU. The total number of hospitalizations now stands at 25,826 since the virus arrived in the state, with 5,329 requiring ICU care.

Credit: KARE

Young adults account for the two largest COVID case groupings in the state with people between 20 and 24 recording 48,334 cases and three deaths, and those between 25 and 29 numbering 43,379 cases and six deaths. 

The demographic between ages 85 and 89 have suffered the most deaths from coronavirus, with 1,229 in just 6,253 diagnosed cases. 

As the most populous county in the Minnesota, Hennepin County has seen the most COVID activity with 100,764 cases and 1,586 deaths, followed by Ramsey County with 43,106 cases and 801 deaths, Dakota County with 36,297 cases and 390 deaths, and Anoka County with 33,293 cases and 385 deaths.

MDH says 472,470 people who at one time tested positive for the virus no longer require isolation.

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.