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The daily coronavirus update: 22 more deaths as Minnesota officials lay groundwork for vaccine distribution

MDH also said Tuesday there were 3,549 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Minnesota, based on 22,757 new tests.

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 1, 2020:

322,312 cases; 3,615 deaths

Twenty-two more Minnesotans have died of COVID-19, the Minnesota Department of Health said Tuesday, for a total of 3,615.

Of the people whose deaths were announced Tuesday, one was over 100 years old, five were in their 90s, nine in their 80s, four in their 70s, two in their 60s and one in their 50s. Seventeen of the 22 people whose deaths were announced Tuesday were residents of long-term care facilities.

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MDH also said Tuesday there have been 322,312 total confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Minnesota, a number that is up 3,549 from Monday’s count and is based on 22,757 new tests. The seven-day positivity average, which lags by a week, is 11.2 percent, down from 14.4 last week and from 15.4 percent two week ago. You can find the seven-day positive case average here.

Though Minnesota Department of Health Director Jan Malcolm called the decrease in the positivity average encouraging, she said it’s too early to call the dip anything more than a brief trend that could soon spike upward. She said the state remains in a critical stage of the pandemic, and that she anticipates an influx of positive cases and hospitalizations in the coming weeks. 

The most recent data show 394 Minnesotans are hospitalized in intensive care, and 1,446 are in the hospital and not in intensive care. You can find more information about Minnesota’s current ICU usage and capacity here.

Officials prepare phased vaccine distribution

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices met Tuesday to make recommendations on who should receive initial doses of an approved vaccine for COVID-19, which will be doled out in phases, said Minnesota Department of Health’s director of infectious disease Kris Ehresmann. 

Two vaccines are up for approval by the Food and Drug Administration in the coming weeks: one produced by Pfizer on Dec. 10, and from Moderna on Dec. 17. Both biopharmaceutical companies released studies indicating their vaccines to be 95 percent effective, signaling the potential for a quick FDA approval. 

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Following FDA approval, the CDC’s advisory group will meet again to make further recommendations. Before any vaccine is administered to Minnesotans, the Minnesota Vaccine Allocation Advisory Group — made up of public health, medical and community partners to help advise the state — will also give guidance.

Ehresmann said the advisory group will also provide an update on vaccine allocation plans in the coming days, while Malcolm said that the state office and Governor Tim Walz will team up for a press conference with more information “probably” next week. 

Ehresmann said the vaccine will be administered in three phases. During phase one, the vaccine will be made available to specific health plans serving specific populations, like healthcare workers. 

The state will enter phase two when vaccine supply increases enough to begin to meet more expansive demand, said Ehresmann. Those who are most vulnerable to the virus or who have experienced the most severe impact from it — essential workers, the elderly, those with underlying health conditions — will still be prioritized during that phase, with vaccines administered through a network of clinics, pharmacies and community health sites. 

Phase three will be when the vaccine is in “plentiful supply,” said Ehresmann, and distributed to the general public, which she said would be “a wonderful time.”

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Around the web

  • These ‘little land mines’ could prevent a summertime boom, the New York Times
  • Bipartisan group of senators seek compromise on a Covid-19 relief package, NBC News

MDH’s coronavirus website:

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

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