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Coronavirus in Minnesota: Mayo model predicts omicron peak in late January

Minnesota is setting state records for its case positivity rate, which most recently stood at 22.2 percent.

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

The omicron variant continues to cause a surge in COVID-19 cases across Minnesota. Modeling by the Mayo Clinic suggests this wave of infections could peak Jan. 26, after which cases could see a rapid decline as they have in other states, per the Star Tribune.

COVID-19 hospitalizations remain high in Minnesota, and now, many health care workers are out quarantined or in isolation because of it. In order to help short-staffed health care facilities, Gov. Tim Walz announced a plan last Wednesday to spend $40 million in American Rescue Plan funds to bolster staffing, primarily with registered nurses. He also announced a plan to expand access to rapid tests with another $40 million in ARP funds.

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U.S. households can now order four free COVID-19 rapid test kits through the United States Postal Service’s website. The site says kits will be shipped starting in late January.

Due to the pandemic, China announced it will not sell tickets for spectators — even to locals — for the 2022 Beijing Olympic games, which start in February, the New York Times reported.

Cases

Data from the Minnesota Department of Health show the state added 44,394 new COVID-19 cases between Jan. 12 and Jan. 18, for an average of 11,099 new cases per day (data were not reported over the weekend or Monday over the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, leaving four days’ worth of data reported). That’s up from a 8,474 new case daily average the week prior. At the previous 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 a record 22.2 percent, up from 19.1 percent the week prior. You can find the seven-day case positivity average here.

There have been more breakthrough COVID-19 cases caused by the omicron variant, which early research suggests is more transmissible and avoids vaccine protections against infection better than previous strains of the disease. Still, there are relatively few people who have been hospitalized or who have died of COVID-19 after being fully vaccinated. As of Dec. 12, the most recent data available, 6,312 of nearly 3.4 million fully vaccinated Minnesotans have been hospitalized with COVID-19, and 1,216 have died. The data are from before the current omicron surge, however. More data can be found here.

Deaths and hospitalizations

Minnesota reported 162 new COVID-19 deaths since Jan. 12 (Deaths did not necessarily occur in the week in which they were reported because deaths are not always reported and confirmed immediately.)

While COVID-19 ICU hospitalizations have dropped, non-ICU COVID-19 hospitalizations have risen since last week’s report. As of Tuesday, 248 people are in intensive care with COVID-19, while 1,362 are hospitalized and not in intensive care. Last Tuesday, 263 were in intensive care and 1,265 were hospitalized and not in intensive care. More information on Minnesota’s current hospitalizations here.

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Vaccines

The most recent data show 68.3 percent of Minnesotans, (3.8 million people), had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, while 64.0 percent of Minnesotans (3.6 million people) had completed the vaccine series. A week ago, 68 percent of Minnesotans had received at least one dose and 63.8 had completed the vaccine series. More data on the state’s vaccination efforts can be found here.

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