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Coronavirus in Minnesota: New case counts decline further

Even so, Minnesota is close to reporting its 12,000th death from the disease since the start of the pandemic.

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

Indicators continue to suggest COVID-19 is declining — at least for now — in Minnesota, with cases, deaths and hospitalizations down. Wastewater data show a continued drop, too.

Across the pond: we learned over the weekend that 95-year-old Queen Elizabeth has COVID-19. Her symptoms are mild and cold-like and she’s expected to keep up light duties for the next week. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson declared an end to COVID-19 restrictions in the U.K. Monday. He said it was time to learn to live with the virus.

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Across the country: California Gov. Gavin Newsom also announced measures to move to a more endemic, live-with-the-virus paradigm. On Thursday, he laid out a plan designed to quickly detect and quash outbreaks. The Associated Press reports the plan includes billions in spending to find surges and detect variants, increase the number of health  care workers, ramp up the supply of tests and combat false claims about the virus.

California’s blanket indoor statewide mask mandate lifted last week.

The Minnesota Department of Health said last week it will expand its program to distribute rapid antigen COVID-19 test kits through community organizations. The agency said it would provide 347,000 additional tests to local public health, tribal health, food shelf and other community organizations, to be distributed in February and March.

Minnesota is slightly below average — and behind Arkansas and Alaska — when it comes to vaccination rates in nursing homes, according to a new analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

On average, 84 percent of U.S. nursing home staff had completed their original vaccine series as of the end of January, KFF found. In Minnesota, 83 percent have completed their vaccine series. You may recall the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services required nursing home staff  to be vaccinated. As a result of litigation, the deadlines vary, and some states have sued to block the requirement.

Cases

Data from the Minnesota Department of Health show the state added 7,490 new COVID-19 cases in the six days between Feb. 16 and Feb. 21, for an average of 1,842 new cases per day. (Because of the President’s Day holiday, data that would normally be reported Monday was reported Tuesday, and weekend case data that would normally be reported Tuesday will be reported Wednesday.) Last week, Minnesota averaged 3,412 new cases daily.

The most recent seven-day case positivity average — or the average share of positive cases out of total COVID-19 tests — is 9.5 percent, down from 10.9 percent the week prior. You can find the seven-day case positivity average here.

As of Jan. 16, the most recent data available, 9,537 of nearly 3.6 million fully vaccinated Minnesotans have been hospitalized with COVID-19, and 1,680 had died. More breakthrough case data here.

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Deaths and hospitalizations

Minnesota has reported 11,993 COVID-19 deaths, meaning we’re likely to reach 12,000 on Wednesday, if current trends continue. The state announced 131 new COVID-19 deaths since last Wednesday. (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 continue to drop in Minnesota. As of Tuesday, 104 people are in intensive care with COVID-19, while 529 are hospitalized and not in intensive care. Last Tuesday, 145 were in intensive care and 753 were hospitalized and not in intensive care. More information on Minnesota’s current hospitalizations here.

Vaccines

The most recent data show 65.5 percent of Minnesotans, (3.6 million people), had completed a COVID-19 vaccine series. A week ago, 65.3 percent of Minnesotans had completed the vaccine series. More data on the state’s vaccination efforts can be found here.

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