COVID-19 update: Vaccination pace climbs in Minnesota

Published 2:43 pm Tuesday, March 2, 2021

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COVID-19 watchers have kept a wary eye for weeks now on Minnesota vaccinations. A late January surge brought excitement and the frustration as the pace flattened or declined through a big chunk of February.

Vaccination traction, though, may finally be here.

Health Department data shows state inoculations on an upswing with roughly 159,000 shots reported the past three days. The seven-day rolling average is running at more than 36,000 a day currently, the highest it’s been since vaccinations began in late December.

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Officials had been hoping the arrival of shipments delayed by the recent nationwide cold snap atop the state’s regular allotment of doses would start to surface in daily vaccinations counts. That appears to be happening.

There’s reason to believe the vaccination rate might continue to rise with the addition of the newly approved Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which only requires one dose. More than 45,000 doses of the newly approved vaccine should arrive in Minnesota this week, state health officials said Monday.

About 16.2% of Minnesotans age 16 and older — more than 900,000 people — had received at least one dose as of Monday’s update, with about 8.4% completely vaccinated.

More than 52% of Minnesotans 65 and older have received at least one shot currently, according to Health Department calculations. That’s important since Gov. Tim Walz has said the state will expand vaccination eligibility when 70% of that population gets a first dose.

Minnesota currently ranks 16th among states in doses administered per 100,000 people, according to data collected by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Walz last week said every Minnesotan should be able to get a COVID-19 vaccine shot by the summer. At the current pace, 80% of Minnesotans 16 and older would be able to get a shot by August.

Metrics relatively stable

While the pace of vaccinations is picking up, Minnesota’s COVID-19 numbers show the state holding fairly steady in a good way.

Hospitalization rates remain encouraging at levels last seen before the late-fall surge in cases. The Health Department on Monday reported 230 people in Minnesota hospitals with COVID-19, with 47 needing intensive care, levels not seen since the spring.

Known, active cases came in at 7,097, continuing a trend that stayed fairly stable through February and remains down dramatically from late November and early December, when active cases hovered around 50,000.

Three newly reported deaths raised Minnesota’s toll to 6,486. Among those who’ve died, about 63% had been living in long-term care or assisted living facilities; most had underlying health problems.

The state has recorded 485,230 total confirmed or probable cases so far in the pandemic, including 636 reported Monday. 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

About 16.5% of Freeborn County’s population (5,029) have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccination through Sunday.

Minnesota’s vaccination rate stands at 16.3%.

Freeborn County reported four new lab-confirmed cases on Tuesday, increasing its cumulative cases to 2,807. Of the total, 56 are considered active cases.

There were three new hospitalizations but no new deaths Tuesday. The county’s death total from the pandemic stands at 23.

The new cases included people in their 20s, 30s, 40s, and 60s.

The following is an update on other area counties:

  • Faribault County: one new case; 1,230 total cases; 2,343 vaccines administered (17.0% of population)
  • Mower County: five new cases; 4,047 total cases; 6,739 vaccines administered (16.9% of population)
  • Steele County: two new cases; 3,004 total cases; 5,292 vaccines administered (14.4% of population)
  • Waseca County: one new case; 2,087 total cases; 2,988 vaccines administered (15.9% of population)

Minnesota reported four more deaths — none in south-central Minnesota — caused by COVID-19 on Tuesday, along with 443 new cases.