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
While cases remain low in Minnesota this week, the question remains: for how long? Or, more specifically, when will a bump in cases caused by the BA.2 omicron subvariant (“stealth omicron/ “bro-micron”/“son of omicron”) hit the state, and how big of a wave will it cause?
As of last week, the share of BA.2 cases in Minnesota had roughly tripled within the span of a week, to 29.5 percent of sequenced cases, per MDH. At that time, it wasn’t clear that BA.2 was causing an increase in cases overall.
As of now, Met Council wastewater data do suggest a small bump in cases in recent days, but those data lag so they aren’t exactly up-to-the-minute. While experts say BA.2 is likely to cause a wave, they don’t think it will be as massive as omicron 1.0, and it’s really not clear yet how big that wave could be. You can read all about BA.2 and its potential impact in Minnesota here.
People age 50 and up, and some younger people with weakened immune systems are eligible for a second COVID-19 booster shot as of Tuesday.
Both the FDA and the CDC authorized a second a second booster dose of Moderna and Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccines for these groups, provided they are four months out from their first booster.
That doesn’t mean everyone age 50 and up needs to rush out and get a second booster immediately.
“This is especially important for those 65 and older and those 50 and older with underlying medical conditions that increase their risk for severe disease from COVID-19 as they are the most likely to benefit from receiving an additional booster dose at this time,” said CDC Director Rochelle Walensky in a statement. “CDC, in collaboration with FDA and our public health partners, will continue to evaluate the need for additional booster doses for all Americans.”
On Monday, Gov. Tim Walz announced Minnesotans can order free at-home rapid COVID-19 tests for home delivery. Starting Tuesday, households can order two test packages — four tests — each. According to a press release, the tests will be available until the state runs out of the 500,000 kits (1 million tests) it has procured. You can order them online here.
Moderna announced last Wednesday it is seeking approval for its COVID-19 vaccine for kids ages 6 months to 6 years.
Data from the Minnesota Department of Health show the state added 2,648 new COVID-19 cases between March 23 and March 29, averaging 378 new cases per day — lower than last week, which saw an average of 463 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, where it has remained since a week ago. When this metric hit 2.8 last week, it was the first time it had been below 3 percent since July. You can find the seven-day case positivity average here.
Deaths and hospitalizations
Minnesota has reported 50 COVID-19 deaths since last Wednesday. Last week, the state reported 51 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 and are at the lowest numbers they’ve been at since last summer. As of Tuesday, 27 people are in intensive care with COVID-19, while 171 are hospitalized and not in intensive care. Last Tuesday, 31 were in intensive care and 219 were hospitalized and not in intensive care. More information on Minnesota’s current hospitalizations here.
The most recent data show 66.2 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, 66.1 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.
This week on MinnPost
What we’re reading
- What’s the Deal With Masks on Planes?, the New York Times