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The daily coronavirus update: new case numbers continue to decline; Moderna vaccine expected to arrive in Minnesota Wednesday

Twenty-four more Minnesotans have died of COVID-19, the Minnesota Department of Health said Tuesday, for a total of 4,896. 

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 22, 2020:

401,011 confirmed cases; 4,896 deaths

Twenty-four more Minnesotans have died of COVID-19, the Minnesota Department of Health said Tuesday, for a total of 4,896. 

“Don’t ever get numb to 25 deaths,” said Governor Tim Walz in a Tuesday press conference. The state will likely surpass 5,000 total reported deaths this week. 

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Of the people whose deaths were announced Tuesday, one was over 100, four were in their 90, six in their 80s, eight in their 70s, three in their 60s, and two in their 50s. Sixteen of the 24 deaths announced Tuesday were of people who were residents of long-term care facilities

MDH also said Tuesday there have been 401,011 total cases of COVID-19 in Minnesota. The number of positives is up 1,714 from Monday’s count and is based on 32,195 new tests. 

The state crossed the threshold of 400,000 reported cases Tuesday. Yet the grim number also coincides with a downward trend in daily confirmed cases. Tuesday marks two consecutive days the state had fewer than 2,000 reported cases per day. 

The seven-day positivity average, which lags by a week, is 8.4, down from 10.9 the week prior. You can find the seven-day positive case average here.

Though the positivity average has fallen each day since Dec. 12, the state says the level of spread remains cause for extreme caution. “Were in a better spot in terms of cases, but we can’t let our guard down,” said MDH Commissioner Jan Malcolm during a joint press conference with Walz. 

The most recent data available show 228 Minnesotans are hospitalized in intensive care with COVID-19, and 832 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.

Moderna doses expected to arrive Wednesday

Doses of the COVID-19 vaccine manufactured by Moderna will begin arriving in Minnesota Wednesday, Infectious Disease Director Kris Ehresmann said Tuesday. 

A panel of Center of Disease Control and Prevention experts approved the Moderna vaccine Dec. 19. Minnesota will receive 94,800 doses, said Ehresmann, with most of that amount being delivered Wednesday. All Moderna doses are expected to arrive this week. 

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The Moderna vaccine doesn’t have the same ultra-cold storage requirements as the Pfizer vaccine, which was the first to be approved for usage. 

“It’s a little easier for sites to manage,” said Ehresmann. The Moderna vaccine will be sent directly to healthcare facilities and used to innoculate long-term care residents and staff. 

All 46,800 doses of the Pfizer vaccine have been received by the state, and the vaccination of healthcare workers using the Pfizer vaccine has begun. A total of 2,999 healthcare workers have received the first dose, according to Ehresmann. 

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The state hopes to finish the first part of the first phase of vaccinations, which are reserved for healthcare workers and long-term care residents, by the end of January, said Ehresmann. The next group to be vaccinated includes people ages 75 and older and essential frontline workers.

Wrapping up 1a has more to do with increasing vaccine supply, said Ehresmann, than vaccinating everyone in 1a. 

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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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