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 big news of the week is that the rate of increase of new cases in Minnesota is continuing to drop after a huge spike driven by the omicron variant. The rate of new cases in the last week was at its lowest level since mid-December, before the major spike in cases caused by the omicron wave.
The other big thing that has many parents of young children screaming into the void this week is that Pfizer has decided to postpone its request of the Food and Drug Administration to approve a two-dose regimen of its COVID-19 vaccines in kids under 5.
The FDA could have approved a two-dose series for this age group as soon as late February. The company, however, said last week it is waiting on data for a three-dose series, believing that may better protect kids in this age group. Third-dose data could be available in early April, NBC reported.
Diners in Minneapolis and St. Paul no longer need proof of vaccination or a recent negative test to eat indoors. As of Thursday, both cities ended those mandates, which were imposed last month amid the omicron wave. The cities’ mask mandates remain in effect.
The University of Minnesota launched a wastewater dashboard to track the prevalence of COVID-19 across the state and monitor variants. The new data include more than 40 plants that cover roughly two-thirds of Minnesota residents and can be broken down by region of the state.
In testing news, the federally-operated test site located at the Minnesota Department of Transportation building closed Monday. Walk-ins have resumed at the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport test site, but appointments are recommended, per MDH.
Data from the Minnesota Department of Health show the state added 23,885 new COVID-19 cases in the seven days between Feb. 9 and Feb. 15, for an average of 3,412 new cases per day. That’s down from a 4,598 new case daily average the week prior.
The most recent seven-day case positivity average — or the average share of positive cases out of total COVID-19 tests — is 10.9 percent, down from 14.9 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. 9, the most recent data available (which now includes some young children 5 and up), 9,037 of more than 3.5 million fully vaccinated Minnesotans had been hospitalized with COVID-19, and 1,601 had died. More breakthrough case data here.
Deaths and hospitalizations
Minnesota announced 180 new COVID-19 deaths in the last week. That’s down from 225 the previous week. (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 dropped slightly since last week in Minnesota. As of Tuesday, 145 people are in intensive care with COVID-19, while 753 are hospitalized and not in intensive care. Last Tuesday, 178 were in intensive care and 986 were hospitalized and not in intensive care. More information on Minnesota’s current hospitalizations here.
The most recent data show 65.3 percent of Minnesotans, (3.63 million people), had completed a COVID-19 vaccine series. A week ago, 65 percent of Minnesotans had completed the vaccine series. More data on the state’s vaccination efforts can be found here.
This week on MinnPost
What we’re reading
- The Bad Ideas Our Brains Can’t Shake, the Atlantic