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Coronavirus in Minnesota: record case counts nationwide amid omicron wave

In response to high testing demand in Minnesota, the Walz administration announced the opening of three new community testing sites.

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

At the start of 2022, the omicron variant has contributed to a surge in positive cases of the coronavirus around the nation.

The rise in cases during this latest wave has exceeded records during earlier stretches of the pandemic.

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On Monday, just over 1 million cases were reported — a count that is likely higher due to people waiting to get tested until after the New Year’s holiday weekend but also sets a new record for cases reported in one day.

Though disconcerting, experts believe less attention should be paid to reported case numbers and instead focus should shift to the number of people being admitted to the hospital. Hospital numbers have not spiked alongside the deluge of positive tests.

Also, though the omicron variant is highly contagious, there are reports that its effects may be less severe than previous strains of COVID-19, particularly on the lungs.

Still, President Joe Biden is slated to be briefed by his COVID-19 Response Team Tuesday and, afterward, give brief remarks on plans for slowing the spread of omicron.

In response to high demand for COVID-19 testing in Minnesota, the Walz administration announced the opening of three new community testing sites, in Anoka, Cottage Grove and North Branch. More information on community testing sites can be found here.

Cases

Data from the Minnesota Department of Health show the state added 34,945 new COVID-19 cases in the seven days between Dec. 29 and Jan. 4 (there was no report for New Years’ Eve), for an average of 4,992 new cases per day. That’s up from a 2,882 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 12 percent, up from 8.6 percent the week prior. You can find the seven-day case positivity average here.

As of Nov. 28, the most recent data available, there have been 142,583 documented breakthrough infections — people who became infected with COVID-19 despite being fully vaccinated. That number represents 4.26 percent of fully vaccinated people in the state. Among them, 5,526 fully vaccinated people have been in the hospital (0.17 percent of fully vaccinated people) and 1,080 have died (0.032 percent of fully vaccinated people). More information on breakthrough infections can be found here.

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Deaths and hospitalizations

Minnesota added 201 new COVID-19 deaths in the last week, which was almost identical to the 202 deaths 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 continued to climb during the last half of 2021 in Minnesota, but have plateaued lately. As of Tuesday, 293 people are in intensive care with COVID-19, while 1,077 are hospitalized and not in intensive care. Last Tuesday, there were 335 in intensive care and 1,034 were hospitalized and not in intensive care. More information on Minnesota’s current hospitalizations here.

Vaccines

The most recent data show 67.6 percent of Minnesotans, (3.76 million people), had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, while 63 percent of Minnesotans (3.52 million people) had completed the vaccine series. More data on the state’s vaccination efforts can be found here.

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