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COVID-19 update: Waiting on shots as pandemic picture improves

Minnesota’s COVID-19 vaccination effort is still searching for traction following a mild upswing. Officials, though, hope the arrival of some 45,000 weather-delayed shots on top of the state’s regular 100,000-dose allocation can jump-start the pace of vaccinations.

The state Health Department on Tuesday reported about 7,400 new vaccinations, the lowest daily count in two weeks. Only about 2,300 more Minnesotans received their first shot.

Nearly 42 percent of Minnesotans 65 and older have received at least one shot, but people in that age group are still struggling to navigate the state’s appointment system to get vaccinated.

On Tuesday, AARP Minnesota called for “ongoing improvements” to streamline Minnesota’s vaccination process. “We’ve heard from our members, and too many are frustrated and confused,” the organization said in a letter to Gov. Tim Walz.

Anecdotal stories from older Minnesotans show people “demoralized when their efforts to secure a vaccine come up empty,” AARP said.

Walz on Tuesday told reporters he was “very optimistic” that in the next couple of weeks, the state will be able to give residents a better sense of when they’ll be vaccinated based on age and health conditions.

South-central Minnesota

Freeborn County reported nine new lab-confirmed cases on Wednesday, increasing its cumulative cases to 2,768. Of the total, 46 are considered active cases.

There were no new hospitalizations or new deaths Wednesday. The county’s death total from the pandemic stands at 23.

The new cases included two people each in their 20s and 50s, and one apiece ages 5-9, and in their 30s, 40s, 60s, and 70s.

The following is an update on other area counties:

  • Faribault County: five new cases; 1,217 total cases
  • Mower County: nine new cases; 4,002 total cases
  • Steele County: four new cases; 2,976 total cases
  • Waseca County: six new case; 2,069 total cases

Minnesota reported nine more deaths — none in south-central Minnesota — caused by COVID-19 on Wednesday, along with 761 new cases.