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The daily coronavirus update: New CDC guidance eases pandemic restrictions for people who’ve been vaccinated

In Minnesota, the Health Department announced that 6 more people had died of COVID-19 and that nearly 20 percent of the population had received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine.

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 March 8, 2021:

90,483 cases; 6,556 deaths

Six more Minnesotans have died of COVID-19, the Minnesota Department of Health said Monday, for a total of 6,556.

Of the people whose deaths were announced Monday, two were in their 90s, three were in their 80s and one was in their 40s. Three of the 6 people whose deaths announced Monday were residents of long-term care facilities.

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MDH also said Monday there have been 490,483 total cases of COVID-19 in Minnesota. That number is up 472 from the total announced on Sunday and is based on 36,485 new tests. The most recent seven-day positivity average, which lags by a week, is 3.6 percent. You can find the seven-day positive case average here.

The state’s most recent data says 1,072,260 Minnesotans, roughly 19.3 percent of the state’s population, have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. That’s up 26,183 from data reported Sunday. Two-thirds — 65.9 percent — of Minnesotans age 65 and older have received at least one dose. That’s an important number to watch because Gov. Tim Walz said he would open the vaccine up to the next group once 70 percent of 65+ Minnesotans have had at least one dose.

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With those numbers inching up, Minnesota expects to move to the next phase of vaccination soon.

The most recent data available show 46 Minnesotans are hospitalized in intensive care with COVID-19, and 177 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.

New guidelines ease pandemic restrictions for the vaccinated

On Monday, the Centers for Disease Control issued new guidelines for people who have been fully vaccinated, which means at least two weeks have passed since their second Pfizer or Moderna shot, or two weeks have passed since their Johnson & Johnson shot.

The new guidelines are the following:

  • People who have been fully vaccinated may spend time indoors with other vaccinated people without wearing masks or social distancing.
  • People who have been fully vaccinated may spend time indoors without masking or social distancing with unvaccinated people from one household, as long as those people are not at high risk of serious complications from COVID-19.
  • People who have been fully vaccinated do not need to quarantine or get tested for COVID-19 after exposure to the virus if they do not have symptoms.

MDH officials say they are working to update the state’s guidance in light of these new guidelines in the coming days. It’s not clear yet what the new guidelines mean for senior residences.

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MDH Infectious Disease Director Kris Ehresmann said the new guidance is based on science and called them a step forward. She reminded Minnesotans that they still need to wear masks and social distance in public and when they are around unvaccinated people from multiple other households, even when they’re vaccinated.

“The vast majority of people need to be fully vaccinated in Minnesota before COVID-19 precautions can be lifted,” she said.

Carver County B117 variant outbreak continues; testing site opened

Carver County continues to experience an outbreak of the B117 variant of COVID-19. The variant, identified in the United Kingdom, is also thought to be more transmissible than the strain that’s been transmitting widely for the last year.

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MDH has linked 27 cases of the B117 variant to activities in Carver County. Those with cases include athletes, coaches, students and members of their households. MDH said many who tested positive for the variant attended school or sports activities while they were infectious. Since people under 16 are not currently eligible to be vaccinated, MDH fears the variant could spread quickly in these groups. Carver County is also seeing an increase in cases linked to gyms that are tied to these sports-related cases. More information can be found here.

In light of the outbreak, officials have opened a COVID-19 testing site at the Chanhassen Recreation Center. Appointments are recommended but not required and can be scheduled using Vault Health. The hours of the new site are:

  • Thursday, March 11, 2 – 8 p.m.
  • Friday, March 12, noon – 6 p.m.
  • Saturday, March 13, noon – 6 p.m.
  • Thursday, March 18, 2 – 8 p.m.
  • Friday, March 19, noon – 6 p.m.
  • Saturday, March 20, noon – 6 p.m.

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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