Pandemic data solid 1 month after mask mandate’s end

Published 6:29 am Tuesday, June 15, 2021

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Minnesota public health leaders were worried the end of the statewide masking mandate on May 14 might lead to an uptick in COVID-19 cases. A month later, though, new and active cases are trending at lows not seen since the earliest months of the pandemic.

The most recent data showed only 118 newly reported cases. There have never been fewer people hospitalized here with the disease since data started being reliably tracked last summer.

Another important milestone comes in two weeks. June 28 will mark one month after all remaining statewide COVID-19 capacity limits on bars, restaurants and other public gathering spaces were lifted.

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Here are Minnesota’s latest COVID-19 statistics:

  • 65.8 percent of Minnesotans 16 and older with at least one vaccine dose; 61.3 percent completely vaccinated4
  • 7,517 deaths (5 new)
  • 603,876 positive cases; 99 percent off isolation

The vaccination pace continues to crawl. After targeting July 1 as the date to get at least one dose into 70 percent of the 16-and-older population, it looks now like that won’t happen until early August. Minnesota is also showing some big regional divides in vaccination rates.

New, active cases trend at April 2020 lows

Overall, the basic numbers around the pandemic remain very encouraging.

The state’s averaged 156 new cases a day over the past seven reporting days, the lowest since April 2020. Known, active cases of the disease came in at 1,403, continuing to over at April 2020 lows.

How quickly have conditions improved? On May 1, Minnesota was averaging more than 1,500 new cases daily and had more than 15,000 known, active cases.

COVID-19 hospitalizations also continue to slide from their spring peaks. The Health Department reported 178 people hospitalized in Minnesota as of Friday, with 48 in intensive care.

Daily intensive care admissions are near their lowest point since data collection began in the weeks last year after the first COVID-19 case was discovered.

Five deaths newly reported on Monday pushed Minnesota’s pandemic toll to 7,517. Among those who have died, about 59 percent had been living in long-term care or assisted-living facilities; most had underlying health problems.

The state has recorded 603,876 total confirmed or probable cases so far in the pandemic, including the 118 posted Monday.

About 99 percent of Minnesotans known to be infected with COVID-19 in the pandemic have recovered to the point where they no longer need to isolate.

Case counts had crept up across the state during April following a massive spike in late November and early December. Now, though, the numbers are low and falling in every age group and region.

People in their 20s still make up the age bracket with the state’s largest number of confirmed cases — more than 111,000 since the pandemic began.

Although young people are less likely to feel the worst effects of the disease and end up hospitalized, experts worry they can spread it unknowingly to older relatives and members of other vulnerable populations.

Vaccination pace stumbles along

More than 2.9 million residents 16 and older now have at least one vaccine dose. More than 2.7 million are completely vaccinated. That works out to about 61.3 percent completely vaccinated and 65.8 percent with at least one shot, including 90 percent of people 65 and older.

The vaccination pace, however, is tripping along now after free-falling from its April peak. If the pace continues to languish, it will be early August before the state reaches 70 percent of adults with at least one shot.

Officials recently noted that more than 70 percent of the 16-and-older population in the Twin Cities metropolitan area had received at least one vaccine dose, but that the rate was below 60 percent in much of the rest of the state, creating a concerning urban-rural vaccination gap.

Minnesota has seen notable growth in the number of children ages 12 to 15 getting vaccinated since mid-May when federal authorities approved the Pfizer vaccine for use at those ages.

Health Department data shows more than 95,000 12-to-15-year-olds with at least one dose, about one-third of that population. The pace, though, has fallen following an early surge.

The latest available data also shows just under 70 percent of Minnesotans of Asian descent have been vaccinated. Given the reporting lag for data on race and ethnicity, it’s likely that population has already become the first to cross the 70-percent threshold.