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COVID-19 update: Vaccination pace reaches record high

Minnesota health officials are reporting a second straight day of more than 70,000 additional COVID-19 vaccine doses administered — the two highest daily increases on record so far.

Sunday’s report of 71,627 vaccinations — using data as of Friday — followed Saturday’s record high report of 77,715 doses administered.

That pushed the seven-day rolling average to more than 44,000 doses administered each day — the highest that weekly average has been in Minnesota.

But the weekly average of new COVID-19 cases reported each day also continues to rise — not to record highs, but still to levels not seen in more than two months. As of Sunday’s update the average had crept back above 1,400 — the highest that number has been since Jan. 18.

Here are Minnesota’s current COVID-19 statistics:

  • 6,830 deaths (5 new)
  • 515,058 positive cases; 96 percent off isolation
  • 28.6 percent of Minnesotans with at least one vaccine dose
  • 80.7 percent of Minnesotans 65 and older with at least one vaccine dose

The increasing pace of COVID-19 cases shows the rising urgency now to widen the vaccine eligibility pool.

Officials are increasingly anxious about caseloads tied to the U.K. COVID-19 variant and to youth sports. They’ve confirmed more than 500 cases of the U.K. strain in recent weeks and believe as many half the state’s new cases may be tied to that variant.

Vaccination pace increases

As of Sunday’s update, more than 976,000 people — about 17.5 percent of the state’s population — have completed their vaccinations while nearly 1.6 million — 28.6 percent — have received at least one dose, including more than 80 percent of people age 65 and older.

For those who’ve received a complete vaccination, the results look good. Of the hundreds of thousands of people completely vaccinated, the state said last week that it’s identified only 89 who’ve subsequently tested positive for COVID-19.

Health Department leaders expect a major expansion of vaccine doses the first week in April — enough to give 300,000 Minnesotans their first shot and an additional 200,000 to provide people with a second shot.

That, together with the expanded eligibility, should go a long way to easing the concerns of a new wave, although officials noted the state won’t immediately have all the doses it needs to immediately vaccinate everyone who wants a shot.

South-central Minnesota update

Freeborn County reported five new lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases Saturday and has now had 3,052 cases since the start of the pandemic. Of that number, 70 cases are considered active.

The new cases included one person in their 30s, one person in their 40s, two people in their 50s and one person in their 60s. No new hospitalizations or deaths were reported.

As of Friday, 9,593 people in the county had received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose and 5,311 had received the completed series.

The following is an update on other area counties:

  • Faribault County: five new lab-confirmed cases; 1,370 total cases; 4,180 people had received at least one dose of the vaccine and 2,678 had received the completed series.
  • Mower County: 12 new lab-confirmed cases; 4,350 total cases; 13,579 people had received at least one dose of the vaccine and 6,894 had received the completed series. 
  • Steele County: 13 new lab-confirmed cases; 3,315 total cases; 10,446 people had received at least one dose of the vaccine and 5,476 had received the completed series.
  • Waseca County: five new lab-confirmed cases, one probable case; 2,194 total cases; 5,094 people had received at least one dose of the vaccine and 3,122 had received the completed series.