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Coronavirus in Minnesota: Walz tests positive for COVID-19

The governor, his wife and son all tested positive and are isolating. Walz and his wife have no symptoms; their son has mild symptoms.

Gov. Tim Walz receiving a Moderna booster shot on October 26, 2021.
Gov. Tim Walz receiving a Moderna booster shot on October 26, 2021.
MinnPost photo by Peter Callaghan

On Tuesdays, MinnPost provides weekly updates that cover COVID-19 developments in Minnesota from the previous Wednesday to present. We will be taking a break over the holidays next Tuesday, Dec. 28, but back with a coronavirus update covering COVID-19 developments in Minnesota on Tuesday, Jan. 4. 

This week in COVID-19 news

Gov. Tim Walz, his wife Gwen and teenage son have all tested positive with breakthrough infections of  COVID-19, according to an announcement from the governor’s office Tuesday.

“Thankfully, my son has mild symptoms and Gwen and I have no symptoms. My son is vaccinated, and Gwen and I are vaccinated and have received our booster shots, and I am confident that these vaccines are protecting my family and me from serious illness,” Walz said in a statement. He said he is isolating and will continue to work from home until he tests negative for the virus and feels better.

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“I encourage every Minnesotan to get tested before the holidays, and to roll up their sleeves and get their vaccine and their booster to ensure they, too, have strong protection against COVID-19,” he said.

The CDC is saying it estimates omicron variant cases of COVID-19 made up 73 percent of new infections in the U.S. last week, a six-fold increase over its share the week prior. As of last week, Minnesota had confirmed seven cases of the variant. The Minnesota Department of Health believes the variant to be spreading within the state.

Amid omicron concerns, President Joe Biden is expected to announce on Tuesday a plan to mail free rapid COVID-19 test kits to Americans, as well as deploy military medical personnel to overwhelmed hospitals.

Clinical trial results for Pfizer’s vaccine for children under the age of five are delayed as the pharmaceutical company tests the efficacy of a third dose in children in this age group, NBC reported. Data suggest two smaller, child-size doses did not produce the desired level of antibodies, specifically in kids ages 2 to 5.

Bloomberg reported Tuesday that the Food and Drug Administration is expected to soon approve pills from Merck and Pfizer that help treat COVID-19 and could lessen the burden of severely ill patients on hospitals.

For those seeking to have COVID-19 safer holidays, public health officials recommend being vaccinated and boosted if eligible, and having everyone — even vaccinated people — take a rapid test before an event. Here’s a helpful piece on how to weigh and minimize risks from Rutgers.

Cases

Data from the Minnesota Department of Health show the state added 20,597 new COVID-19 cases in the seven days between Dec. 15 and Dec. 21, for an average of 2,942 new cases per day. Last week, Minnesota averaged 3,429 new cases daily. 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 9.1 percent, down from 10.6 percent the week prior, but still nearly double the 5 percent “caution” threshold. You can find the seven-day case positivity average here.

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As of Nov. 14, the most recent data available, there have been 125,076 documented breakthrough infections — people who became infected with COVID-19 despite being fully vaccinated. That number represents 3.77 percent of fully vaccinated people in the state. Among them, 5,026 fully vaccinated people have been in the hospital (0.15 percent of fully vaccinated people) and 938 have died (0.028 percent of fully vaccinated people). Unvaccinated people remain far more likely to get sick, be hospitalized or die compared to vaccinated people. More information on breakthrough infections can be found here.

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Deaths and hospitalizations

Minnesota added 233 new COVID-19 deaths in the last week, down from 265 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 have declined slightly in Minnesota. As of Tuesday, 355 people are in intensive care with COVID-19, while 1,115 are hospitalized and not in intensive care. Last Tuesday, 352 were in intensive care and 1,284 were hospitalized and not in intensive care. More information on Minnesota’s current hospitalizations here.

Vaccines

The most recent data show 67.0 percent of Minnesotans, (3.73 million people), had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, while 62.7 percent of Minnesotans (3.49 million people) had completed the vaccine series. A week ago, 66.5 percent of Minnesotans had received at least one dose and 62.2 percent 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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