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Coronavirus in Minnesota: Another week of low case counts

Case counts did tick up slightly this week compared to the previous week, but are very low compared to levels at the beginning of the year.

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

COVID-19 case counts remain low in Minnesota. That’s indicated in official case counts (though average daily case numbers are up slightly over last week) and in wastewater data from every region of the state.

The question right now is how long the lull in cases will last. The BA.2 omicron subvariant is here, making up 10.4 percent of cases sequenced by MDH in the most recent report (which lags — the data are from late February/early March). But this new variant does not seem to be causing a big spike in Minnesota yet. Research suggests BA.2 is more transmissible than omicron but does not necessarily cause more severe disease.

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That the variant is causing increases in cases elsewhere — especially western Europe, where vaccination rates are high and where countries loosened restrictions in ways similar to the U.S. — is some cause for concern, though it’s unclear how similar the pattern will look in the U.S.

Is it time for a COVID-19 booster shot encore? Pfizer and Moderna think so. According to NBC News, both companies filed requests that the Food and Drug Administration authoize another booster last week. Pfizer asked the FDA to consider a second booster for those 65+. Moderna asked the agency to authorize another booster for adults. There is debate in the scientific community surrounding whether or not an additional booster is needed, and for whom.

Cases

Data from the Minnesota Department of Health show the state added 3,241 new COVID-19 cases between March 15 and March 22, averaging 463 new cases per day — just slightly higher than the daily average last week, at 405 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 2.8 percent, down from 3.2 percent the week prior. It’s the first time the metric has been below 3 percent since July. You can find the seven-day case positivity average here.

Deaths and hospitalizations

Minnesota has reported 51 COVID-19 deaths since last Wednesday. The week prior, the state reported 68 deaths. (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, 31 people are in intensive care with COVID-19, while 219 are hospitalized and not in intensive care. Last Tuesday, 42 were in intensive care and 264 were hospitalized and not in intensive care. More information on Minnesota’s current hospitalizations here.

Vaccines

The most recent data show 66.1 percent of Minnesotans had completed a COVID-19 primary vaccine series, while 45.8 percent were up-to-date on their shots (meaning they have completed the primary series and received a booster if recommended). A week ago, 66 percent of Minnesotans had completed the vaccine series, and 45.8 percent were up-to-date. More data on the state’s vaccination efforts can be found here.

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This week on MinnPost

What we’re reading

  • “Hong Kong’s high death rate shows the importance of vaccinating the elderly,” New York Times.
  • “Covid infection associated with a greater likelihood of Type 2 diabetes, according to review of patient records,” Washington Post
  • “America’s Flu-Shot Problem Is Also Its Next COVID-Shot Problem,” the Atlantic