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The daily coronavirus update: Minnesota pauses Johnson & Johnson vaccinations

The pause in use of the J&J vaccine is expected to be brief as rare cases of blood clots are investigated.

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 April 13, 2021:

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545,404 cases; 6,962 deaths

Three more Minnesotans have died of COVID-19, the Minnesota Department of Health said Tuesday, for a total of 6,962.

All of the people whose deaths were announced Tuesday were in their 60s. None were residents of long-term care facilities.

MDH also said Tuesday there have been 545,404 total cases of COVID-19 in Minnesota. That number is up 1,358 from the total announced on Monday and is based on 15,492 new tests. The most recent seven-day case positivity rate, which lags by a week, is up to 7.2 percent, a level not seen since early January. Anything above 5 percent is considered concerning. You can find the seven-day positive case average here.

As of Sunday, the most recent day of data available, 2,102,859 Minnesotans, or 37.8 percent of the population, had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

The most recent data available show 159 Minnesotans are hospitalized in intensive care with COVID-19, and 517 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.

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Pause on Johnson & Johnson vaccinations

On Tuesday morning, the Centers for Disease Control and the Food and Drug Administration advised a pause on Johnson & Johnson vaccinations for COVID-19.

The pause came after six reports of unusual blood clots in women between the ages of 18 and 48 that occurred between six and 13 days post-vaccination, possibly linked to the vaccine. One person died.

Whether linked to the vaccine or not, the complication is rare: 6.8 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine have been given in the U.S.

Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine
REUTERS/Dado Ruvic
Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine
That the pause was called after the six cases were identified is an indication that the system for finding potential reactions to the vaccines is working as it should, MDH Commissioner Jan Malcolm said in a news conference Tuesday.

“When there are safety signals, even when they are very rare, they should be checked out,” she said. None of the six blood clot cases were identified in Minnesota.

The pause is expected to be short and is not expected to significantly slow the pace of vaccination in Minnesota: so far, 95 percent of the vaccines administered in-state have been made by Pfizer or Moderna. Roughly 184,000 Minnesotans have received the J&J shot.

While any potential complications are very rare, Minnesotans who have received the J&J shot recently are advised to check in with their health care provider if they have a severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain or shortness of breath within three weeks of receiving the vaccine.

Minnesotans who are scheduled to receive the J&J shot in the coming days should get a note from the provider about rescheduling or postponing the vaccine, Malcolm said. She said MDH is looking into substituting other vaccines in, but because most all the vaccines in the state are spoken for, that’s a logistical challenge.

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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: 651-297-1304