COVID-19 Latest

A dose of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine is prepared before being administered at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester. (Evan Frost/MPR News)

The number of Minnesotans who’ve received at least the first dose of the two-shot COVID-19 vaccine is nearing a quarter-million.

But that’s still less than 5 percent of the state’s population, as the supply of vaccine and pace of distribution isn’t enough to meet the demand after state officials started allowing more groups to get vaccinated.

Sunday’s update showed 247,415 Minnesotans have received at least one vaccine shot. More than 63,000 people have received both shots to complete their vaccination.

In total, 311,600 vaccine shots have been administered in the state as of the latest update. Sunday marked the second consecutive day that the state reported more than 20,000 vaccine doses administered — the first time that’s happened.

Meanwhile the Department of Health on Sunday reported another 32 COVID-19 deaths and nearly 1,200 more cases in the state.

Averaged over the past seven days, the number of new cases, hospital admissions and deaths reported each day continues to fall. The test positivity rate is down to 4.1 percent.

Here are Minnesota’s current COVID-19 statistics:

  • 6,095 deaths (32 new)
  • 454,989 positive cases (1,196 new), 437,827 off isolation (96 percent)
  • 6.4 million tests, 3.2 million people tested (about 56 percent of the population)
  • 4.1 percent seven-day positive test rate (officials find 5 percent or more concerning)
  • 4.5 percent of Minnesotans have at least one vaccine dose (as of Jan. 21)

Evidence of the vaccination challenge became clear last week after the state launched a pilot program intended to speed vaccinations to people 65 and older as well as to educators and child care workers.

The state OK’d 12,000 doses — about 20 percent of Minnesota’s current weekly allocation — to start the pilot. But the online booking process that launched at noon Tuesday quickly became overwhelmed, getting more than 1 million hits by early afternoon.

Officials have repeatedly acknowledged they don’t have the vaccine supplies yet to meet the rapidly rising demand.

Gov. Tim Walz on Friday said if the Biden administration can reach its goal of 100 million vaccinations in 100 days, Minnesota will likely get enough vaccine to come close to reaching herd immunity, when a large enough percentage of a population is protected against a disease that it's less likely to spread from person to person.

It will take about 3 million doses to get there, Walz said. "At the rate we're at, this is where the frustration lies, it's not fast enough,” the governor said as he visited a north metro rehabilitation center.

Cases spread across age groups, regions

People in their 20s still make up the age bracket with the state’s largest number of confirmed cases — more than 86,000 since the pandemic began, including more than 45,000 among people ages 20 to 24.

The number of high school-age youth confirmed with the disease has also grown, with more than 35,000 total cases among those ages 15 to 19 since the pandemic began.

Although less likely to feel the worst effects of the disease and end up hospitalized, experts worry youth and young adults will spread it to older relatives and members of other vulnerable populations.

It’s of particular concern because people can have the coronavirus and spread COVID-19 when they don’t have symptoms.

Caseloads continue to trend down across all regions of the state following a late December, early January blip.

Hot spots continue to pop up in rural counties relative to their population.

Caseloads still heaviest among people of color

In Minnesota and across the country, COVID-19 has hit communities of color disproportionately hard in both cases and deaths. That’s been especially true for Minnesotans of Hispanic descent for much of the pandemic.

Even as new case counts ease from their late November, early December peaks, the data shows people of color continue to be hit hardest.

Distrust of the government, together with deeply rooted health and economic disparities, have hampered efforts to boost testing among communities of color, officials say, especially among unauthorized immigrants who fear their personal information may be used to deport them.

Similar trends have been seen among Minnesota’s Indigenous residents. Counts among Indigenous people jumped in October relative to population.

State wants students, youth athletes tested for COVID

Minnesota health officials on Thursday called for expanded COVID-19 testing, urging K-12 and college students returning to campus, along with kids playing youth sports and anyone else “who regularly interacts with people outside of their family unit or household” be tested.

The move expands the number of people the state says should get a test.

While everyone returning to school should get tested, it’s especially important for people ages 12 to 25 because they’re so active, said Dan Huff, a Minnesota Health Department assistant commissioner.

Getting tested should be a “family affair,” he added, noting (not incorrectly) that “most children do like to spit.”

— MPR News Staff

Southern Minn newspaper group staff contributed to this article.

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