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Coronavirus in Minnesota: FDA approves Pfizer vaccine for kids 5-11; new cases decline

Gov. Tim Walz, Minnesota Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm, and former governor Tim Pawlenty each received a booster shot Tuesday to promote immunization against COVID-19.

Gov. Tim Walz receiving a Moderna booster shot on Tuesday.
Gov. Tim Walz receiving a Moderna booster shot on Tuesday.
MinnPost photo by Peter Callaghan

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. Food and Drug Administration’s advisory panel on Tuesday gave its approval for Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for children age 5 to 11. Following the 17-0 vote, with one abstention, by the advisory panel, Pfizer’s vaccine for children goes before the FDA, which is expected to make a ruling in the coming days. 

If approved, vaccine eligibility would be expanded to some 28 million children. Only children under 4 years of age would remain ineligible.

Booster shots have already received FDA approval for people over 65 years of age, as well as people with underlying health issues. Gov. Tim Walz, Minnesota Health Commision Jan Malcolm, and former governor Tim Pawlenty each received a booster shot Tuesday. 

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Also on Tuesday, Walz announced an expansion of Minnesota’s testing network. Starting Tuesday, the state plans to open free “rapid” testing sites in Inver Grove Heights, Wadena, and Hibbing, according to a news release from the governor’s office. 

The state is also opening a COVID-19 community saliva testing site in Bemidji on Thursday.

Cases

Data from the Minnesota Department of Health show the state added 15,834 new COVID-19 cases in the seven days between Oct. 20 and Oct. 26, for an average of 2,262 new cases per day. That’s down from a 2,45o 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 7.2 percent, which is above the 5 percent “caution” threshold. That’s down from 8.3 percent the week prior. You can find the seven-day case positivity average here.

As of Sept. 19, MDH reported 51,586 confirmed breakthrough infections, defined as infections among people who are fully vaccinated. That figure represents 1.6 percent of fully vaccinated Minnesotans. There had been 2,425 breakthrough hospitalizations (0.076 percent of vaccinated Minnesotans) and 331 fully vaccinated people had died (0.010 percent of fully vaccinated people).

Deaths and hospitalizations

Minnesota added 124 new COVID-19 deaths in the last week, down from 127 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.)

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COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to remain high in Minnesota. As of Tuesday, 210 people are in intensive care with COVID-19, while 725 are hospitalized and not in intensive care. Last Tuesday, 246 were in intensive care and 704 were hospitalized and not in intensive care. More information on Minnesota’s current hospitalizations here.

Vaccines

The most recent data show 62.2 percent of Minnesotans, (3.45 million people), had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, while 59.1 percent of Minnesotans (3.29 million people) had completed the vaccine series. A week ago, 61.9 percent of Minnesotans had received at least one dose and 58.9 had completed the vaccine series. More data on the state’s vaccination efforts can be found here.

This week on MinnPost

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