Daily COVID-19 update: Watching for a possible change in trends
Published 8:17 pm Sunday, January 3, 2021
Minnesota enters the first full week of 2021 with COVID-19 numbers in a much better place than they were a month ago.
But there have been signs in recent days that a weekslong downward trend in new cases, hospital admissions and test positivity rates might be leveling off.
Sunday’s update from state health officials covered two days’ worth of data, catching up from the New Year’s Day holiday. That temporarily muddles the weekly averages that can show pandemic trends better than the day-to-day numbers.
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But prior to Sunday’s updated numbers, there were signs of a possible stall in what had been a steady decline in several key metrics.
The average test positivity rate over the past week is now about 7.1 percent in Minnesota — up from about 4.7 percent last Sunday. Average daily case counts had increased from about 1,700 early last week, to nearly 1,900 as of Saturday’s update.
It remains too early to tell whether those upticks are a short-term aberration or if they will endure — and some reporting of statistics might be affected by the end-of-year holidays. It’s something that will be closely monitored as we head further into January — and officials already were watching for signs of any case increases that might be tied to holiday gatherings.
COVID-19 vaccinations continue around the state. As of Saturday’s update from the Minnesota Department of Health, just over 57,000 people had received at least one of the two-shot Pfizer or Moderna vaccines; that figure was not updated on Sunday. Health care workers and long-term care facility residents have priority for the limited number of doses currently available.
The state has so far received nearly 170,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine and nearly 128,000 of the Moderna vaccine.
Here are Minnesota’s current COVID-19 statistics, reported on Sunday and covering two days’ worth of data:
- 5,430 deaths (53 new)
- 420,544 positive cases (2,714 new), 403,419 off isolation (96 percent)
- 5.7 million tests, 3 million people tested (about 52 percent of the population)
- 7.1 percent seven-day positive test rate (officials find 5 percent concerning)
Caseloads spread across age groups
People in their 20s still make up the age bracket with the state’s largest number of confirmed cases — more than 80,000 since the pandemic began, including more than 42,000 among people ages 20 to 24.
The number of high school-age youth confirmed with the disease has also grown, with more than 32,000 total cases among those ages 15 to 19 since the pandemic began.
Although less likely to feel the worst effects of the disease and end up hospitalized, experts worry youth and young adults will spread it to older relatives and members of other vulnerable populations.
It’s of particular concern because people can have the coronavirus and spread COVID-19 when they don’t have symptoms.
New cases ebb across Minnesota
Central and western Minnesota drove much of the increase in new cases over the past two months, while Hennepin and Ramsey counties showed some of the slowest case growth in the state.
Cases continue to fall statewide, with most regions dipping down to levels before the state’s COVID-19 surge that hit in November and early December.
Hot spots continue to pop up in rural counties relative to their population.
Caseloads still heaviest among people of color
In Minnesota and across the country, COVID-19 has hit communities of color disproportionately hard in both cases and deaths. That’s been especially true for Minnesotans of Hispanic descent for much of the pandemic.
Even as new case counts ease from their peak a few weeks ago, the data shows people of color continue to be hit hardest.
Distrust of the government, together with deeply rooted health and economic disparities, have hampered efforts to boost testing among communities of color, officials say, especially among unauthorized immigrants who fear their personal information may be used to deport them.
Similar trends have been seen among Minnesota’s Indigenous residents. Counts among Indigenous people jumped in October relative to population.
South-central Minnesota update
Freeborn County reported 14 new cases, increasing the county’s cumulative total to 2,031. Of that number, 104 are considered active cases.
The new cases included five people in their 20s, three people in their 30s, one person in their 40s, three people in their 60s and one person in their 80s. The age was unknown for one person.
The following is an update from other area counties:
• Faribault County: seven new probable cases; 929 total cases
• Mower County: 10 new lab-confirmed cases, two probable cases; 3,355 total cases
• Steele County: seven new lab-confirmed cases; 2,535 total cases
• Waseca County: seven new lab-confirmed cases; 1,779 total cases
Minnesota COVID-19 cases, deaths
|County||Total confirmed cases||Total probable cases||Total cases||Total deaths|
|Lac qui Parle||568||46||614||15|
|Lake of the Woods||149||5||154||1|