On Tuesdays, MinnPost provides weekly updates that cover COVID-19 developments in Minnesota from the previous Wednesday to present.
This week in COVID-19 news
The U.S. marked a pair of grim pandemic milestones this week: About as many Americans have died from COVID-19 as were killed in the 1918 flu pandemic, and now one in 500 Americans has died of COVID-19.
At the same time, Pfizer said its vaccine is effective for young children between 5 and 11 years old. Kids are less at risk for severe cases of COVID-19 than older adults, but there is still some risk. The New York Times reports the delta variant has caused more children to be hospitalized and need intensive care in the last few weeks than at any other point in the pandemic. Children can also pass the disease along to people who may be more vulnerable.
A federal vaccine advisory group recommended booster shots for people age 65 and older, or people at higher risk of a severe case of COVID-19, but not for others. Johnson & Johnson also says a second shot two months after the first dose increases protection to 94 percent against COVID-19.
A poll of 800 registered Minnesota voters conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy for MPR News, Kare 11, the Star Tribune and FRONTLINE found a plurality believe coronavirus health restrictions have been “about right” while only 30 percent said they have gone “too far.”
A Ramsey County District Judge blocked a request from some Minnesota parents to force Gov. Tim Walz into implementing a mask mandate in K-12 schools.
Walz said Tuesday the state plans to expand hours and capacity at its Mall of America vaccination site in an effort to make it easier for families to vaccinate 12 to 17 year olds. Its hours will be 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Wednesday through Friday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Data from the Minnesota Department of Health show the state added 16,617 new COVID-19 cases in the seven days between Sept. 15 and Tuesday, for an average of 2,373 new cases per day. That’s up from a 2,326 new case daily average the week prior. At the height of the pandemic in late November of 2020, Minnesota averaged more than 7,000 new cases per day.
The most recent seven-day case positivity average — or the average share of positive cases out of total COVID-19 tests — is 6.8 percent, down from 7.1 percent the week prior. You can find the seven-day case positivity average here.
As of Aug. 22, the state has reported 23,330 COVID-19 cases among fully vaccinated Minnesotans. That represents 0.749 percent of more than 3.11 million people who had been fully vaccinated in late August. Of the 23,330 people with known breakthrough cases, 1,268 were hospitalized and 118 died.
People who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 are substantially less likely to catch COVID-19, be hospitalized from it or die.
Deaths and hospitalizations
Minnesota added 96 new COVID-19 deaths in the last week, up from 59 the week prior. (Deaths did not necessarily occur in the week in which they were reported because deaths are not always reported and confirmed immediately.)
COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to rise in Minnesota. As of Tuesday, 222 people are in intensive care with COVID-19, while 569 are hospitalized and not in intensive care. Last Tuesday, 208 were in intensive care and 540 were hospitalized and not in intensive care.
The latest data from the state says 1,144 ICU beds are in use and that standard capacity is 1,206 ICU beds. More information on Minnesota’s current hospitalizations here.
The most recent data show 60.7 percent of Minnesotans, (3.379 million people), had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, while 57.6 percent of Minnesotans (3.20 million people) had completed the vaccine series. A week ago, 60.4 percent of Minnesotans had received at least one dose and 57.1 had completed the vaccine series. More data on the state’s vaccination efforts can be found here.
This week on MinnPost
- MinnPost’s COVID-19 dashboard
What we’re reading
- Immunity is redefining COVID-19, says the Atlantic.
- ‘An iron curtain’: Australia’s covid rules are stranding people at state borders, reports the Washington Post.