Active cases and hospitalizations are ebbing in Minnesota, but the vaccination pace remains at a relative crawl even as state public health leaders plead with unvaccinated adults to get their shots.
More than 60 percent of state residents 16 and older have at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. But with the pace only inching forward now, it’ll take longer to reach 70 percent — the threshold Gov. Tim Walz linked to ending the statewide mask mandate before July 1.
Here are Minnesota’s COVID-19 statistics as of 5:30 a.m. May 11:
7,231 deaths (0 new)
588,952 positive cases; 97 percent off isolation
About 60.3 percent of Minnesotans 16 and older have received at least one vaccine dose; about 49.1percent completely vaccinated
A few weeks ago, the state was on pace to hit the 70 percent vaccination mark in mid-May; now it's pushed back to at least June 18, if the current rate holds.
It’s not for lack of supply: Walz said last week that the federal government stands ready to ship more vaccine to Minnesota. Eligible Minnesotans can now walk in for a COVID-19 vaccination without an appointment at the state’s community vaccination program locations.
Active cases, hospitalizations down
The count of known, active COVID-19 cases came in at 11,685 — down from the most recent high of about 20,000 in mid-April and the lowest since late March, offering more evidence of a retreat in the spring surge.
Monday’s report showed 481 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Minnesota; 133 needed intensive care. Both figures continue to trend down from their recent peaks.
Perhaps more significantly, there were only five new COVID-19 hospitalizations. Setting aside the early days of the pandemic, that’s the third-lowest daily count, after March 7 and March 8 of this year.
With no newly reported deaths, Minnesota’s pandemic toll stayed at 7,231. Among those who have died, about 61 percent had been living in long-term care or assisted-living facilities; most had underlying health problems.
The state has recorded 588,952 total confirmed or probable cases so far in the pandemic, including the 1,191 posted Monday. About 97 percent of Minnesotans known to be infected with COVID-19 in the pandemic have recovered to the point where they no longer need to isolate.
Regionally, all parts of Minnesota are in better shape than they were in late November and early December. Case counts had been creeping up the past few weeks across the state, but the trend appears to have peaked.
Officials continue to implore Minnesotans to keep their guard up during proms, graduations and other spring events, noting that more contagious COVID-19 variants are driving new cases across the state.
Youth counts concerning
While the overall trends are solid, officials are increasingly concerned about the spread of COVID-19 in younger people. They’ve been urging more testing of middle and high school students and weekly testing for athletes, coaches, referees and other youth sports participants.
People in their 20s still make up the age bracket with the state’s largest number of confirmed cases — more than 109,000 since the pandemic began.
The number of high school-age youth confirmed with the disease has also grown, with more than 48,000 15-to-19-year-olds known to be infected during the pandemic.
Although young people are less likely to feel the worst effects of the disease and end up hospitalized, experts worry they will spread it unknowingly to older relatives and members of other vulnerable populations. Those with the COVID-19 virus can spread it when they don’t have symptoms.
More than 2.6 million residents 16 and older now have at least one vaccine dose; more than 2.1 million have now completed their vaccinations as of Monday’s update.
That works out to more than 49 percent of the 16-and-older population completely vaccinated and more than 60 percent with at least one shot, including nearly 88 percent of those 65 and older.
Officials acknowledge the state must do more to connect unvaccinated people to shots.
The work to reach out to people who haven’t yet been vaccinated “will be a bit harder” than when Minnesotans were lining up for the shots, state infectious disease director Kris Ehresmann said last week.
“We recognize successes are going to be hard to come by in this phase,” she said. “Anytime we move up by a percentage point (in people vaccinated), that’s a big deal.”
This story originally appeared at: https://www.mprnews.org/story/2021/05/11/latest-on-covid19-in-mn.