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The daily coronavirus update: 12 more deaths; Minnesota launching vaccine pilot sites

The nine pilot sites will provide COVID-19 vaccinations to Minnesotans who are 65 or older, pre-K through 12th grade school and child care workers.

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 January 18, 2021:

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447,349 cases; 5,939 deaths

Twelve more Minnesotans have died of COVID-19, the Minnesota Department of Health said Monday, for a total of 5,939.

Of the people whose deaths were announced Monday, five were in their 90s, four were in their 80s, one was in their 70s, one was in their 60s and one was in their 50s. Seven of the 12 people whose deaths announced Monday were residents of long-term care facilities.

MDH also said Monday there have been 447,349 total cases of COVID-19 in Minnesota. That number is up 969 from the total announced on Sunday and is based on 21,438 new tests. The most recent seven-day positivity average, which lags by a week, is 7.2 percent. You can find the seven-day positive case average here.

As of Friday, the most recent data available, 194,462 people, or 3.5 percent of the population, had gotten at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccination, according to MDH.

The most recent data available show 125 Minnesotans are hospitalized in intensive care with COVID-19, and 487 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.

Minnesota launching pilot sites to vaccinate those 65+, school and child care workers

Minnesota is launching nine pilot sites across the state that will provide COVID-19 vaccinations to Minnesotans who are 65 or older, pre-K through 12th grade school and child care workers, Gov. Tim Walz’s administration announced Monday.

The state expects to provide about 12,000 vaccinations from these clinics the first week, part of its weekly allocation of around 60,000 doses in recent weeks.

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On a call with press Monday, Walz said the pilot sites will serve as a foundation for mass vaccination clinics to be set up across Minnesota when sufficient vaccine supplies are available.

The pilot sites will begin vaccinating Thursday, and Minnesota is opening up appointments for eligible Minnesotans around noon on Tuesday. At that time, a link to sign up as well as a phone number to call to make an appointment will be found at https://mn.gov/covid19/vaccine/.

Schools will work with employees to obtain appointments for them and child care programs will be randomly selected and told when vaccine is available. MDH is also working directly with community clinics to vaccinate Minnesotans who are Black, Indigenous or People of Color.

Walz acknowledged that demand for the vaccines far outpaces supply: “This is going to be harder than going to Ticketmaster and getting Bruce Springsteen tickets,” he said. He also encouraged Minnesotans to be thoughtful in their approach, suggesting someone who’s 65 and healthy might defer to their neighbor who is older or less healthy.

The nine sites are located in Anoka, Brooklyn Center, Fergus Falls, Marshall, Mountain Iron, North Mankato, Rochester, St. Cloud, and Thief River Falls. Officials told Minnesotans not to show up without an appointment, as there will be no walk-in capacity.

MDH said Monday the state still expects to finish health care workers and residents and workers in long-term care facilities by the end of January. MDH had planned to announce plans for vaccinating residents 75 and older and essential workers, this week, but officials said the state is now waiting for clarity from the federal government before announcing plans. Last week, the federal government urged states to make those 65 and over eligible, contradicting previous CDC guidance.

Minnesota has been receiving about 60,000 vaccine doses per week. Officials said it’s not clear when that supply will increase further.

Asked when COVID-19 vaccines would be readily available to Minnesotans the way flu vaccines are in pharmacies, Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said it could be until early summer.

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In a press release, MDH said health providers are developing plans to tell their 65 and older patients when vaccine will be available to them. MDH said providers will contact patients and, as of now, patients should refrain from contacting providers.

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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