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Daily COVID-19 update: Watching for a possible change in trends

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.

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
Aitkin 1,010 22 1,032 32
Anoka 27,279 2,031 29,310 332
Becker 2,660 51 2,711 36
Beltrami 2,786 124 2,910 43
Benton 3,775 173 3,948 82
Big Stone 432 9 441 3
Blue Earth 5,053 38 5,091 30
Brown 1,988 42 2,030 32
Carlton 2,319 315 2,634 38
Carver 6,220 305 6,525 34
Cass 1,910 38 1,948 20
Chippewa 1,251 34 1,285 30
Chisago 4,026 202 4,228 28
Clay 6,140 72 6,212 78
Clearwater 640 22 662 14
Cook 106 0 106 0
Cottonwood 1,148 80 1,228 15
Crow Wing 4,493 65 4,558 67
Dakota 29,564 1,200 30,764 281
Dodge 1,181 5 1,186 4
Douglas 3,398 133 3,531 60
Faribault 921 8 929 11
Fillmore 1,107 14 1,121 1
Freeborn 2,021 10 2,031 18
Goodhue 3,082 38 3,120 48
Grant 391 3 394 7
Hennepin 84,635 2,751 87,386 1,405
Houston 1,153 47 1,200 13
Hubbard 1,380 23 1,403 37
Isanti 2,516 158 2,674 33
Itasca 2,670 40 2,710 40
Jackson 752 48 800 8
Kanabec 914 21 935 18
Kandiyohi 5,361 49 5,410 66
Kittson 306 36 342 18
Koochiching 542 11 553 9
Lac qui Parle 568 46 614 15
Lake 514 46 560 15
Lake of the Woods 149 5 154 1
Le Sueur 1,953 22 1,975 15
Lincoln 448 8 456 1
Lyon 2,802 70 2,872 29
Mahnomen 396 1 397 7
Marshall 664 16 680 13
Martin 1,559 26 1,585 25
McLeod 3,061 43 3,104 40
Meeker 1,870 27 1,897 32
Mille Lacs 1,980 68 2,048 43
Morrison 2,828 113 2,941 43
Mower 3,310 45 3,355 25
Murray 720 41 761 5
Nicollet 2,057 45 2,102 33
Nobles 3,477 63 3,540 46
Norman 411 2 413 8
Olmsted 9,415 40 9,455 64
Otter Tail 4,109 151 4,260 51
Pennington 831 77 908 14
Pine 2,402 112 2,514 12
Pipestone 851 30 881 21
Polk 3,023 194 3,217 52
Pope 687 5 692 4
Ramsey 36,258 1,314 37,572 698
Red Lake 270 41 311 4
Redwood 1,289 29 1,318 26
Renville 1,257 51 1,308 39
Rice 5,525 75 5,600 57
Rock 964 74 1,038 10
Roseau 1,499 113 1,612 14
Scott 10,825 359 11,184 84
Sherburne 7,283 495 7,778 57
Sibley 998 34 1,032 5
St. Louis 12,184 554 12,738 212
Stearns 16,574 519 17,093 173
Steele 2,527 8 2,535 9
Stevens 669 8 677 6
Swift 775 22 797 16
Todd 2,225 20 2,245 27
Traverse 191 29 220 2
Wabasha 1,513 8 1,521 2
Wadena 1,097 39 1,136 12
Waseca 1,773 6 1,779 15
Washington 18,093 669 18,762 194
Watonwan 1,028 7 1,035 7
Wilkin 572 20 592 7
Winona 3,582 35 3,617 45
Wright 10,254 729 10,983 90
Yellow Medicine 829 62 891 14
Unknown/missing 417 24 441 0