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
Good news: This week, Minnesota’s COVID-19 metrics took a nosedive. That matches a pattern seen in other places that experienced omicron waves: a rapid increase in cases followed by a rapid, sharp decline.
In light of lower caseloads, governors in several states that had mask mandates, including New Jersey, California, Connecticut, Delaware and Oregon, are planning to loosen them soon, the New York Times reports. Minnesota hasn’t had a statewide mask mandate in many months. Minneapolis and St. Paul both reimposed mask mandates during the omicron surge.
St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter may lift the city’s requirement that dine-in restaurant patrons be vaccinated (or have a recent negative test) by the end of the week. The University of Minnesota announced Tuesday it would lift its vaccine mandate for large events.
At the Olympics, Team U.S.A. figure skater Vincent Zhou had to drop out of the Beijing games prematurely after he tested positive for COVID-19. The test result stopped Zhou from competing for an individual medal after he helped Team U.S.A. men’s figure skating win silver as a team. Reports from athletes suggest being quarantined at the games is no picnic.
On the vaccine front, new analysis from the Centers for Disease Control finds that booster shots are more beneficial for older adults than younger ones, the New York Times reports. For younger adults, the original vaccine series, whether two doses of Pfizer or Moderna or one dose of Johnson & Johnson, was so effective at preventing hospitalizations that the booster didn’t add much. The data suggest boosters lowered the risk of hospitalization more among older adults. Boosters are currently recommended for people 12 and up.
Data from the Minnesota Department of Health show the state added 32,189 new COVID-19 cases in the seven days between Feb. 2 and Feb. 8, for an average of 4,598 new cases per day. That’s down from a 11,165 new case daily average the week prior (and that was likely an undercount due to a case report processing backlog that has since been resolved). Official state numbers are an undercount because they don’t include results from at-home antigen tests.
The most recent seven-day case positivity average — or the average share of positive cases out of total COVID-19 tests — is 14.9 percent, down from 21 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 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 Jan. 2, the most recent data available, 8,496 of more 3.4 million million fully vaccinated Minnesotans had been hospitalized with COVID-19, and 1,521 had died. More breakthrough case data here.
Deaths and hospitalizations
Minnesota added 225 new COVID-19 deaths in the last week. The number of deaths reported by week has hovered around 230 since mid-January at this point. (Deaths did not necessarily occur in the week in which they were reported because deaths are not always reported and confirmed immediately.) Nationally, deaths are the highest they’ve been in a year as omicron continues to kill the unvaccinated and the elderly, the Washington Post reports.
COVID-19 hospitalizations have dropped slightly since last week in Minnesota. As of Tuesday, 178 people are in intensive care with COVID-19, while 986 are hospitalized and not in intensive care. Last Tuesday, 192 were in intensive care and 1,178 were hospitalized and not in intensive care. More information on Minnesota’s current hospitalizations here.
The most recent data show 65 percent of Minnesotans, (3.6 million people), had completed a COVID-19 vaccine series. A week ago, 64.7 percent of Minnesotans had completed the vaccine series. More data on the state’s vaccination efforts can be found here.
This week on MinnPost
- Dashboard professionals: A guide to all of the state of Minnesota’s public COVID-19 data (that we know about)
- MinnPost’s COVID-19 dashboard
What we’re reading
- Is the Coronavirus in Your Backyard?, New York Times
- How Clean-Eating Rhetoric Is Shaping the Anti-Vax Movement, Outside