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
Well, we are officially two years into this pandemic: Two years ago on Sunday, Minnesota marked its first case of COVID-19.
Do you remember what you were doing when you found out about the first Minnesota case? I do. It was an otherwise quiet Friday afternoon, at 3:26 p.m. when the press release announcing the first case landed in my inbox.
I was on my way to happy hour with friends at Stella’s Fish Cafe in Uptown. Over drinks, we talked about booking tickets to a festival John Prine was headlining in the summer. None of us knew this would be our last happy hour in a long time, or that Prine would die of COVID-19 a month later.
In brighter news: Two years in, data suggest COVID-19 transmission rates continue to decline in Minnesota. Both case counts and wastewater concentrations of the virus are down.
Last week, President Joe Biden announced a new coronavirus response plan that would take steps toward living with the virus as well as preparing for variants. Requiring funding from Congress, the plan includes measures for “protecting against and treating Covid-19; preparing for new variants; avoiding shutdowns; and fighting the virus abroad,” the New York Times reported.
U.S. households can order more free COVID-19 tests. Households can order eight tests, so households that have ordered none so far can order eight, while households that have already ordered four can get an additional four, delivered via the U.S. Postal Service, per NPR.
In a reversal of opinion, the World Health Organization is now supporting wider access to COVID-19 booster shots. Previously, the global health organization held that they weren’t necessary for people who were healthy and had concerns that booster shots were contributing to vaccine inequity, the Associated Press reports.
Amid lower community transmission and updated CDC masking guidelines, Duluth Public Schools, where masks had been required, have shifted to a masks-optional approach, says Dan Kraker of MPR. Last week, Kraker said Duluth schools were the largest district in the state to switch to a masks-optional policy.
Data from the Minnesota Department of Health show the state added 4,497 new COVID-19 cases between March 2 and March 8, averaging 642 new cases per day. Last week (which included 10 days’ worth of data due to reporting delays over President’s Day), the average was 900 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 4.0 percent, down from 5.6 percent the week prior. You can find the seven-day case positivity average here.
Deaths and hospitalizations
Minnesota has reported 90 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, 44 people are in intensive care with COVID-19, while 322 are hospitalized and not in intensive care. Last Tuesday, 75 were in intensive care and 437 were hospitalized and not in intensive care. More information on Minnesota’s current hospitalizations here.
The most recent data show 65.9 percent of Minnesotans, (3.7 million people), had completed a COVID-19 primary vaccine series. A week ago, 65.8 percent of Minnesotans had completed the vaccine series. This week, MDH added data on the number of people who are up-to-date on their COVID-19 vaccines, meaning they have completed the primary series and received a booster if recommended. That stands at 2.5 million people, or 45.7 percent of the population. More data on the state’s vaccination efforts can be found here.
This week on MinnPost
- Minneapolis and St. Paul just lifted their mask mandates. Is it OK to stop worrying about COVID?
- MinnPost’s COVID-19 dashboard
What we’re reading
- How Did This Many Deaths Become Normal? The Atlantic.
- Covid adds to Ukraine’s wartime pain, New York Times.