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The daily coronavirus update: 44 more deaths; state on the lookout for cases involving more transmissible strain of COVID-19

MDH also said Thursday there are 1,983 new cases of COVID-19 in Minnesota, based on 42,049 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 January 7, 2020:

429,570 cases; 5,572 deaths

Forty-four more Minnesotans have died of COVID-19, the Minnesota Department of Health said Thursday, for a total of 5,572.

Of the people whose deaths were announced Thursday, one was over 100 years old, 11 were in their 90s, 12 were in their 80s, 13 were in their 70s, five were in their 60s and two were in their 40s. Twenty-three of the 44 people whose deaths announced Thursday were residents of long-term care facilities.

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Of the 249 deaths reported during the first week of January, 121 were among residents of the seven-county Twin Cities metro area, while 128 were among residents of Greater Minnesota. There have now been 3,095 COVID-19 deaths in the metro and 2,477 in Greater Minnesota. For months, however, the majority of deaths have been outstate.

MDH also said Thursday there have been 429,570 total cases of COVID-19 in Minnesota. That number is up 1,983 from the total announced on Wednesday and is based on 42,049 new tests. The seven-day positive case average, which lags by a week, is 6.6 percent. It has increased for five consecutive days and is above a 5-percent threshold that state health officials say signals a concerning level of disease spread.

Official state data show 91,174 Minnesotans have received either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, though MDH infectious disease director Kris Ehresmann said preliminary information suggests about 120,000 doses have been administered as of Thursday morning. Guidelines about who gets vaccinated next are expected in mid-January. More information, including demographics, on Minnesotans vaccinated can be found here.

The most recent data available show 135 Minnesotans are hospitalized in intensive care with COVID-19, and 652 are in the hospital with COVID-19 not in intensive care. Hospitalizations continue a decline in the state. You can find more information about Minnesota’s current ICU usage and capacity here.

More information on cases can be found here.

State explains gap between allocated vaccine and number of doses administered

Ehresmann told reporters Thursday there is a long lag between when the state reports how many vaccine doses it has been allocated to when those vaccines are administered and then reported publicly.

The state gets a weekly allocation of vaccines from the federal government, numbers which are reported to the state on Tuesday. Minnesota can only place an order for those doses on Thursday, and they aren’t shipped until the following week, Ehresmann said. (This Tuesday, Ehresmann said, the state learned it can get 32,900 doses of the Moderna vaccine and 33,150 doses of the Pfizer vaccine.)

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Once vaccines reach their destination, shots are given out as quickly as possible, Ehresmann said, but she noted there’s an additional delay between when the doses are administered and when that vaccine data is given to the state and reported to the public. 

Discrepancies between the number of doses allocated and the data showing the number of vaccines administered is at least in part due to that long lag period. “Vaccine is not sitting anywhere in Minnesota,” Ehresmann said.

Still, MDH officials told a state Senate committee on Wednesday that Minnesota ranks No. 16 among states for doses administered per 100,000 people and No. 20 in percent of doses administered compared to doses distributed.

State says it’s looking for new COVID-19 strains

As Gov. Tim Walz rolls back restrictions on gatherings, bars and restaurants, MDH Commissioner Jan Malcolm said the state is keeping a “very close eye” on reported variants of COVID-19 from the U.K. and South Africa that may transmit more easily than what has been circulating in Minnesota for months. 

Health officials said the state can test for the variants in the MDH lab but many other COVID-19 testing labs can’t screen for them. Ehresmann said the state is working to get samples from other labs to see if the variant has arrived in the state. 

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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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