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The daily coronavirus update: 22 more deaths; 2,900 Minnesotans vaccinated so far

The Health Department also reported a drop in Minnesota’s seven-day case positivity rate, to 8.9 percent.

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 21, 2020:

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399,311 cases; 4,872 deaths

Twenty-two more Minnesotans have died of COVID-19, the Minnesota Department of Health said Monday, for a total of 4,872.

Of the people whose deaths were announced Monday, three were in their 90s, eight were in their 80s, eight were in their 70s, one was in their 60s, one was in their 50s and one was in their 40s. Ten of the 22 people whose deaths announced Monday were residents of long-term care facilities.

The most recent week of data represents the deadliest week since the pandemic began, with 424 deaths, or an average two to three people dying every hour, Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said.

MDH also said Monday there have been 399,311 total cases of COVID-19 in Minnesota. That number is up 1,992 from the total announced on Sunday and is based on 33,391 new tests. As of Friday, Malcolm said the seven-day case positivity rate average was 8.9 percent, representing the fourth consecutive day that number was below the “high-risk” level of 10 percent. And while the state’s positivity average on the whole has improved, Central, South Central and Southwestern Minnesota continue to have rates above 10 percent. You can find the seven-day positive case average over time here.

The state’s lower case positivity rate isn’t the only bit of good news. Minnesota’s daily rate of new cases dropped from nearly 124 per 100,000 residents to 63 per 100,000 residents between November 11 and December 10, the most recent date of data available. Having more than 10 cases per 100,000 residents daily is a marker of a pandemic out of control, Malcolm said. Still, she said, Minnesota’s case rate per capita seems to be dropping faster than neighboring states’.

While the rate of new cases is still concerning, that represents improvement, Malcolm said.

Hospitalizations are down markedly from where they were a few weeks ago. The most recent data available show 237 Minnesotans are hospitalized in intensive care with COVID-19, and 803 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.

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More information on cases can be found here.

2,900 vaccinated in Minnesota

As of Sunday, more than 2,900 Minnesota health care workers had received their first doses of COVID-19 vaccine, MDH Infectious Disease Director Kris Ehresmann said.

With Moderna’s vaccine now approved, MDH hopes to have gotten first doses to the estimated 500,000 people who make up group 1a — the first to get the vaccine — by the end of January, but Ehresmann said the amount of vaccine allocated to Minnesota could change, moving that date.

The Centers for Disease Control’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, a group of experts that makes recommendations on the use of vaccines, has now issued recommendations for group 1b. This second-priority group will include essential workers and people over age 75.

Because initial supplies are expected to be limited, Minnesota’s vaccine allocation workgroup will meet in the coming weeks to create further subpriorities, with their recommendations expected the week of Jan. 18, Ehresmann said.

State COVID-19 testing sites to be closed Dec. 24, 25, 31; Jan. 1

Malcolm urged Minnesotans to follow health guidance as they celebrate the holidays, and also suggested Minnesotans be tested if they do plan on gathering with family members (more info on the current restrictions here).

Minnesotans who wish to get tested should be mindful that state testing sites will be closed Dec. 24, 25, 31 and Jan. 1. More on testing locations here.

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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