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The daily coronavirus update: zero deaths; Minnesota’s case positivity rate continues to plummet

The Minnesota Department of Health also reported that Black and Latino Minnesotans have seen some of the highest increases in vaccination rates over the last week of available data, though they still lag behind white residents.

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 June 2, 2021:

601,645 cases; 7,427 deaths

No additional COVID-19 deaths were announced by the Minnesota Department of Health on Wednesday. The death toll for the pandemic stands at 7,427.

Because of the Memorial Day holiday, the information posted by MDH on Wednesday includes two days worth of data.

MDH has reported an average of 4.8 deaths per day over the last week, a seven-day rate that has declined sharply from nearly 10 last Wednesday. A change in data reporting from MDH and the holiday weekend may have influenced the latest information, however.

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MDH said Wednesday there have been 601,645 total cases of COVID-19 in Minnesota. That number is up 128 from the total announced on Tuesday and is based on 4,322 new tests. The seven-day case positivity rate, which lags by a day, is 3.4 percent. That’s well below a 5-percent threshold the state considers a concerning sign of disease spread. It’s also down significantly from 3.9 percent the day prior.

As of Monday, the most recent data available, 2,930,767 Minnesotans have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. That’s roughly 52.7 percent of the state’s population and an increase of 4,465 from the day prior. MDH says 64.7 percent of Minnesotans age 16 and older have at least one COVID-19 dose.

The state reports 2,602,326 Minnesotans, about 46.8 percent of the total population, have completed a vaccine series. Roughly 59 percent of Minnesotans age 16 and up are fully vaccinated.

The most recent data available show 76 Minnesotans are hospitalized in intensive care with COVID-19, and 184 are in the hospital with COVID-19 not in intensive care. On Tuesday, MDH reported 79 Minnesotans in the ICU and 170 hospitalized but not in intensive care. You can find more information about Minnesota’s current ICU usage and capacity here.

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Jan Malcolm, the MDH Commissioner, said Minnesota’s declining case counts, hospitalizations and deaths can be attributed to vaccinations but also other forces like natural immunity obtained by the previously infected and the warm weather. When people gather outdoors, COVID-19 is less likely to spread.

Still, she said it’s too early to tell if cases will tick upward in a few weeks after Memorial Day gatherings and after mask mandates were dropped.

More information on cases can be found here.

Equity gaps remain in vaccination

Dr. Nathan Chomilo, the state’s COVID-19 vaccine equity director, told reporters that Black and Latino Minnesotans have seen some of the highest increases in vaccination rates over the last week of available data but still lag behind white residents.

As of May 22, about 45.3 percent of Black Minnesotans age 16 and older have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and 48.4 percent of Latino residents in that age group have at least one dose. Roughly 45.6 percent of American Indian residents age 16+ have at least one dose while about 60.8 percent of white Minnesotans have at least one vaccine dose.

Roughly 66.3 percent of Asian and Pacific Islander residents in the state who are age 16 and older have at least one vaccine dose.

Chomilo said about 62.4 percent of Minnesotans age 16 and older have been vaccinated in areas that rank highest on the federal Social Vulnerability Index, which measures a range of factors like poverty and transportation access. Meanwhile, about 72.1 percent of people in places with lower SVI rankings, meaning they are typically wealthier, have at least one shot.

More community spread seen with rare variants

Health officials estimate about 85 percent of current cases in the state are caused by variants of COVID-19, the most common of which is the B117 variant first identified in the United Kingdom.

Kris Ehresmann, MDH’s infectious disease director, said the state was mainly seeing other prominent variants among people who had recently traveled, but she said there’s “less evidence of international travel and more evidence that these variants are now circulating within the community.”

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Ehresmann said the state has identified 1,657 cases of the domestic variants B1427 and B1429, which were first identified in California and New York, as well as 217 cases of the B1351 variant first identified in South Africa, 306 cases of the P1 variant first identified in Brazil and 39 cases of a trio of B1617 variants first identified in India.

Ehresmann said the B1351 and P1 variants are particularly concerning because people are hospitalized after contracting the strains at higher rates. “The positive news is we have heard and data have shown the vaccines have shown some level of protection against these variants,” Ehresmann said. 

About 2,000 sign up for incentives

Malcolm, the MDH commissioner, said about 2,000 Minnesotans have registered to get one of the free vaccine rewards offered by the state such as fishing licenses and tickets to the state fair. 

The state is offering the incentives for the first 100,000 people who get vaccinated between May 27 and June 30. Eligible people can verify when they got their first dose and choose a reward at mn.gov/covid19/summer.

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Malcolm said there has been “kind of a nice distributed mix of which incentives they’re choosing.”

“We do think that it’s having an effect,” Malcolm said. “I think we’ll certainly get more data as we get a few more days under our belt here but we’re encouraged by the response.”

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Around the web

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.