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Latest on COVID-19 in MN: Vaccination pace stays relatively flat

Feb 21, 2021 12:03PM ● By Editor
A single dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine sits on a table before being administered at a COVID-19 vaccine site in St. Paul on Jan. 28.  Photo: Evan Frost | MPR News file

From Minnesota Public Radio News - February 21, 2021

3 things to know:

  • Vaccination pace holds steady; no sign of weather delays

  • More than half of new vaccinations are second doses

  • Overall pandemic metrics look encouraging

The pace of COVID-19 vaccinations in Minnesota stayed relatively flat in Sunday’s update from state health officials, with no sign yet of a decline due to weather-delayed vaccine shipments.

Averaged over the past week, the number of vaccine doses administered each day ticked upward slightly, to just under 30,000.

But more than half of the new vaccinations reported Sunday were second doses, allowing people to complete their vaccinations. The number of people getting their first vaccine dose has been falling in recent days.

There’s a lag time in reporting vaccination info — Sunday’s update from state health officials reflects data as of Friday — so it’s possible that the effects of the past week’s severe winter weather on vaccine shipments may show up in the coming days. Some vaccination appointments in Minnesota over the weekend were postponed due to those delays.

Newly reported COVID-19 vaccine doses in Minnesota

About 13.6 percent of Minnesotans had received at least one doseas of the latest update, with about 6.1 percent completely vaccinated. More than 41 percent of Minnesotans 65 and older have received at least one shot.

The total number of vaccine doses administered now stands at 1,059,617. 

Here are Minnesota’s current COVID-19 statistics:

  • 6,432 deaths (9 new)

  • 479,036 positive cases (891 new), 465,382 off isolation (97 percent)

  • 7.2 million tests, 3.4 million Minnesotans tested (about 59 percent of the population)

  • 13.6 percent of Minnesotans vaccinated with at least one dose

State public health leaders have emphasized over the past weeks that the relatively low flow of vaccine supplies from the federal government is the main problem holding back the pace of vaccinations. 

While recent vaccination numbers are trending upward, Minnesota at the current pace would only be able to vaccinate about 80 percent of adults by sometime in September. Getting it done by summer would require the state to administer 40,000 to 50,000 shots per day, or more.

Minnesota is currently ranked 20th among states in doses administered per 100,000 people, according to data collected by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Vaccination questions aside, Minnesota’s COVID-19 numbers show the state on a steady, positive path, with key pandemic metrics continuing to improve. Known, active cases held steady at just over 7,200, but the overall trend is solid, hovering around late September levels.

Active confirmed COVID-19 cases in Minnesota

The seven-day hospital admissions trend for people with COVID-19 has also receded to September levels. 

Graph of new ICU and non-ICU COVID-19 hospitalizations

Nine reported deaths on Sunday raised Minnesota’s toll to 6,432. Among those who’ve died, about 63 percent had been living in long-term care or assisted living facilities; most had underlying health problems.

New COVID-19 related deaths reported in Minnesota each day

The seven-day rolling average for deaths is at eight deaths per day, near the lowest since September.

The state has recorded 479,036 total confirmed or probable cases so far in the pandemic, including 891 reported Sunday. About 97 percent of Minnesotans known to be infected with COVID-19 in the pandemic have recovered to the point they no longer need to be isolated.

New COVID-19 cases per day in Minnesota
State health officials continue to monitor new virus strains circulating in the United States, which may be more contagious. 

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 90,000 since the pandemic began, including more than 47,000 among people ages 20 to 24.

New Minnesota COVID-19 cases by age adjusted for population

The number of high school-age youth confirmed with the disease has also grown, with more than 37,000 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 unknowingly to older relatives and members of other vulnerable populations. 

People can have the coronavirus and spread COVID-19 when they don’t have symptoms. 

Regionally, most parts of Minnesota are down significantly from the late November, early December spike as well as a January blip.

There has been an uptick in cases in northwestern Minnesota recently, though it’s unclear why just yet. 

New COVID-19 cases by Minnesota region

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.

New COVID-19 cases per capita by race
Even as new case counts continue to fall from their late November, early December peaks, the data shows Latino people continue to be hit hard.

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.

Last week, Minnesota Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm acknowledged the need to ensure that vaccination opportunities be spread equitably.

Malcolm said the state will release data soon regarding vaccinations, race and ethnicity. Officials say they’re trying to improve the quality of data. Per state law, it's been shared voluntarily, and so may be inconsistent. 

To see the original reports and more COVID-19 reporting, follow this link to the MPR News website.