COVID-19 update: Minnesota vaccination pace flat; active cases trend higher

Published 4:24 pm Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Minnesota’s newest COVID-19 data shows the state’s vaccination pace staying flat while active cases and hospitalizations rise.

The Health Department on Tuesday reported about 11,400 more vaccinations. While that’s higher last Tuesday, the seven-day vaccination trend is still running at around 41,000 shots daily, roughly what it’s been for the past few weeks.

The flat pace may end up only a short-term concern since Minnesota expects to see federal vaccine shipments jump next week and into April. But that bump can’t come soon enough.

Officials are increasingly anxious about rising cases tied to the highly contagious U.K. COVID-19 variant and to youth sports. On Tuesday, they said they’ve confirmed 479 cases of the U.K. strain, adding that it’s becoming a growing piece of the new COVID-19 caseloads.

“It is already dominating” the most recent case growth, Dr. Ruth Lynfield, the state’s epidemiologist, told reporters. Cases among youth are the “leading edge of the spread of variants,” she said, adding that it may be because of their interactions or the lack of vaccination.

Nearly 855,000 people — about 15.4 percent of the state’s population — have completed their vaccinations, while more than 1.4 million — 25.8 percent — have received at least one dose, including about 79 percent of people age 65 and older.

For those who’ve received a complete vaccination, the results look good so far. Of the more than 800,000 people completely vaccinated, the state’s identified only 89 who’ve subsequently tested positive for COVID-19, officials said Tuesday.

Uptick in active cases; worrisome regional outbreaks

Disease conditions remain relatively stable compared to the late fall surge, but caution lights are flashing.

The number of known, active is cases is rising again. Tuesday’s data showed 10,102 active cases — marking five consecutive days with active counts above 10,000, a stretch not seen since late January.

While that’s still low compared to late November and early December, the increase is notable given the worries over the rise of the so-called U.K. COVID-19 strain. State health officials suspect the U.K. variant is driving the current upswing.

Hospitalizations are still low compared to the late-fall surge, but those counts are creeping up as well. Health Department data showed 325 people with COVID-19 in Minnesota hospitals; 87 needed intensive care. That’s the highest number of ICU patients since late January.

Seven deaths reported on Tuesday — including a person in their 20s — raised Minnesota’s collective toll to 6,789. Among those who’ve died, about 63 percent had been living in long-term care or assisted living facilities; most had underlying health problems.

The state has recorded 507,231 total confirmed or probable cases so far in the pandemic, including 870 reported Tuesday. About 97 percent of Minnesotans known to be infected with COVID-19 in the pandemic have recovered to the point where they no longer need to be isolated.

South-central Minnesota update

Freeborn County reported two new lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases and one probable case on Tuesday, increasing the county’s cumulative total to 3,004.

Information about the new cases or how many of the total cases remain active has not yet been released.

The county has had 8,460 people who have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose and 4,361 who have received the completed series, as of Sunday, according to the state.The following is an update on other area counties:

Faribault County: three new lab-confirmed cases; 1,336 total cases; 3,832 people have received at least one dose of the vaccine, 2,018 have received completed series

Mower County: six  new lab-confirmed cases, two new probable cases; 4,294 total cases; 11,855 people have received at least one dose of the vaccine, 5,874 have received completed series

Steele County: nine new lab-confirmed cases, one probable case; 3,242 total cases; 9,373 people have received at least one dose of the vaccine, 4,676 have received completed series

Waseca County: five new lab-confirmed cases; 2,165 total cases; 4,652 people have received at least one dose of the vaccine, 2,571 have received completed series