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Coronavirus in Minnesota: Case growth slows slightly

In spite of that, the case positivity rate increased slightly.

COVID-19
COVID-19
Photo: CDC/Alissa Eckert

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

As much of the country is on the downswing of the current delta variant wave, Minnesota continues to see high case numbers: the New York Times’ COVID-19 tracker lists Minnesota eighth for new cases per capita among U.S. states, with an average of 49 new daily cases per 100,000 residents. The U.S. average is 25 new cases per 100,000 residents.

It’s a big booster-shot news week. Last Thursday, a Food and Drug Administration advisory committee recommended booster shots for Moderna recipients who are age 65 and up and others vulnerable to the virus. The panel’s recommendation is an important step in the process of FDA approval for the boosters, which could come within days, CNBC reports.

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Johnson & Johnson boosters could be approved very soon, too. On Friday, an FDA advisory panel recommended boosters for J&J recipients age 18 and up who received the first dose, provided their first dose was at least two months ago. Full approval is likely not far behind.

Also in booster news: the FDA is expected allow mix-and-match booster shots. The discretion to mix vaccines would likely be given to those administering the shots, and keeping with the same manufacturer may be preferred, the New York Times reported. Some evidence suggests J&J recipients had stronger immune responses to a Moderna booster after 15 days than a J&J booster.

Kids under ages 5 to 11 are expected to become eligible for COVID-19 vaccination within weeks.

Amid high demand for COVID-19 testing, Gov. Tim Walz last week announced the state will expand test resources across Minnesota.

He also announced Minnesotans ages 12 to 17 who are vaccinated in the next six weeks will receive a $200 Visa gift card. Minnesotans in this age group who are vaccinated in 2021 can enter to win one of five $100,000 scholarships to Minnesota public or private nonprofit colleges. Here’s a KARE11 story with more information.

Cases

Data from the Minnesota Department of Health show the state added 17,147 new COVID-19 cases in the seven days between Wednesday, Oct. 13 and Tuesday, Oct. 20, for an average of 2,45o new cases per day. That’s down from a 3,045 new case daily average the week prior and a 2,756 new case daily average two weeks ago. 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 8.5 percent, well above the 5 percent “caution” threshold. That’s up from 8.3 percent the week prior. You can find the seven-day case positivity average here.

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As of Sept. 25, MDH reported 45,827 confirmed breakthrough infections, defined as infections among people who are fully vaccinated. That figure represents 1.4 percent of fully vaccinated Minnesotans. There had been 2,178 breakthrough hospitalizations (0.068 percent of vaccinated Minnesotans) and 263 fully vaccinated people had died (0.008 percent of fully vaccinated people).

Deaths and hospitalizations

Minnesota added 127 new COVID-19 deaths in the last week, the same as the 127 reported 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 remain high in Minnesota. As of Tuesday, 246 people are in intensive care with COVID-19, while 704 are hospitalized and not in intensive care. Last Tuesday, 254 were in intensive care and 706 were hospitalized and not in intensive care. More information on Minnesota’s current hospitalizations here.

Vaccines

The most recent data show 61.9 percent of Minnesotans, (3.44 million people), had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, while 58.9 percent of Minnesotans (3.28 million people) had completed the vaccine series. A week ago, 61.6 percent of Minnesotans had received at least one dose and 58.1 percent had completed the vaccine series. More data on the state’s vaccination efforts can be found here.

This week on MinnPost

What we’re reading

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