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The daily coronavirus update: 21 more deaths; first vaccines administered in Minnesota

Minnesota’s average case positivity rate is down from what it was a week ago, which is an encouraging sign.

COVID-19
COVID-19
Photo: CDC/Alissa Eckert

MinnPost provides updates on coronavirus in Minnesota Sunday through Friday. The information is published following a press phone call with members of the Walz administration or after the release of daily COVID-19 figures by the Minnesota Department of Health.

Here are the latest updates from December 15, 2020:

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384,164 confirmed cases; 4,483 deaths

Twenty-one more Minnesotans have died of COVID-19, the Minnesota Department of Health said Tuesday, for a total of 4,483.

Of the people whose deaths were announced Tuesday, four were in their 90s, nine in their 80s, five in their 70s, two in their 60s, and one in their 40s. Eleven of the 21 deaths announced Tuesday were of people who were residents of long-term care facilities

MDH also said Tuesday there have been 384,164 total cases of COVID-19 in Minnesota. The number of positives is up 2,340 from Monday’s count and is based on 32,117 new tests. The seven-day positivity average, which lags by a week, is 10.9, down from 13.1 the week prior. You can find the seven-day positive case average here.

It’s encouraging that metrics like this trending in a better direction said MDH Commissioner Jan Malcolm during a press conference Tuesday. “So, we thank Minnesotans,” she said.

But Malcolm warned that a drop from staggering numbers is only a small victory, and that people should continue to focus on preventing spread. She also noted that another bump in cases from Thanksgiving travel could still arrive this or next week.

The most recent data available show 300 Minnesotans are hospitalized in intensive care with COVID-19, and 1,009 are in the hospital with COVID-19 not in intensive care. You can find more information about Minnesota’s current ICU usage and capacity here.

More information on cases can be found here.

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COVID-19 vaccine administered in Minnesota

The first Minnesotans to receive the COVID-19 vaccine were nurses at four clinics across the state Tuesday morning.

Doses of the approved Pfizer vaccine, shipped at sub-zero temperatures, arrived at Minneapolis Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Sanford Bemidji Medical Center, Olmsted Medical Center in Rochester and Cass Lake Indian Health Services in Leech Lake Reservation.

“This is an exciting day for Minnesota,” said Gov. Tim Walz at the Minneapolis Veterans Affairs Medical Center Tuesday.

The Pfizer vaccine received emergency approval from the Food and Drug Administration Friday. A vaccine from Moderna is reportedly expected to receive emergency authorization this week.

Some 2,000 doses arrived at a handful of clinics Monday. A total of 46,800 doses are expected this week, to more locations. Some doses were given to nurses right away, but the majority of doses won’t be administered until each clinic has undergone training.

“All of these processes and training are not meant to slow anything down, they are simply meant to make sure that we do things right,” said Infectious Disease Director Kris Ehresmann during a Tuesday press conference.

“We’ll be ready to hit the ground running with giving vaccines later this week, or next week,” said Ehresmann.

After medical workers, the next groups to be vaccinated have yet to be determined, though it may include essential workers and older adults, according to the state.

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MDH’s coronavirus website: https://www.health.state.mn.us/diseases/coronavirus/index.html

MDH’s phone line for COVID-19 questions, Mon.-Fri. 9 a.m. to 4 p.m: 651-297-1304