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The daily coronavirus update: 75 more deaths as new cases continue to decline in Minnesota

Minnesota has reported fewer than 2,000 new cases of COVID-19 for three consecutive days.

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 23, 2020:

402,519 cases; 4,971 deaths

Seventy-five more Minnesotans have died of COVID-19, the Minnesota Department of Health said Wednesday, for a total of 4,971.

Of the people whose deaths were announced Wednesday, 21 were in their 90s, 30 were in their 80s, 13 were in their 70s, nine were in their 60s and two were in their 50s. Forty-five of the 75 people whose deaths announced Wednesday were residents of long-term care facilities.

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There have been 1,378 COVID-19 deaths in December. More than half of Minnesota’s death toll over the course of the pandemic has come in November and December alone. 

MDH also said Wednesday there have been 402,519 total cases of COVID-19 in Minnesota. That number is up 1,508 from the total announced on Tuesday and is based on 23,563 new tests. The state has reported fewer than 2,000 new cases for three consecutive days.

The seven-day positive case average, which lags by a week, is 8.1 percent. That positivity rate metric has declined lately but is still above a 5-percent threshold that signals concerning disease transmission.

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The most recent data available show 238 Minnesotans are hospitalized in intensive care with COVID-19, and 835 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.

While case numbers and hospitalizations have declined in Minnesota, Kris Ehresmann, MDH’s infectious disease director, said deaths are still at a high level because it takes time for a person who is infected to die. Ehresmann said Minnesota is “reaping the effect” of the high case counts in November and said she hopes the downturn in cases now will lead to a decline in deaths in January. 

More information on cases can be found here.

Moderna vaccine shipments delayed

Preliminary data show 11,578 people have been given their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in Minnesota as of Tuesday morning, Ehresmann told reporters Wednesday. So far, the doses administered have all been Pfizer vaccines given to health care workers. 

The Moderna vaccine will be distributed to staff and residents of long-term care facilities, though Ehresmann said the national distributor for Moderna told the state they’re behind on shipping vaccines.  

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Three public health agencies and a nursing home will have shipments delayed, Ehresmann said, and the winter storm Wednesday could pose further problems.

Winter storm and holidays close testing sites

Minnesotans will have fewer testing options for COVID-19 this week as the winter storm clobbering the state and the holidays are closing state-run sites. MDH closed eight sites early on Wednesday because of blizzard warnings and said all sites will be closed Thursday, Friday, Dec. 31 and Jan. 1. The state says you can reschedule for a later date or order a free test to take at home.

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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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