By WCCO-TV

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — As trucks bearing Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine began rolling out across the country Sunday morning, Minnesota health officials reported 3,439 more cases of the virus and 85 more deaths.

The latest data from the Minnesota Department of Health show the state’s total positive case tally is now nearing 379,000, with daily new case counts have shrunk this month compared to last. Meanwhile, COVID-19 deaths are mounting, with the state’s death toll now at 4,444. Since the start of the month, the virus has felled 854 people in Minnesota.

Of the deaths reported Sunday, 49 of the victims were residents in long-term care facilities. Residents in such facilities, like nursing homes, have accounted for more than 65% percent of COVID-19 deaths in Minnesota. Yet, younger Minnesotans have also fallen victim to the virus as two of the most recent victims in their 50s.

As of late last week, 1,461 people were in Minnesota hospitals battling the disease, with 343 patients in intensive care. Since the start of the month, when hospitalizations were at record highs, the numbers have been trending downward. Even so, hospital beds across the state (both regular and ICU) remain near capacity.

According to the state’s Dial Back Dashboard, Minnesota has seen a significant drop in new cases per 100,000 residents since the mid-November, when they reached a record high at 123 cases. As of early this month, that figure is down 30%.

In the last 24 hours, nearly 49,000 tests were processed for Minnesotans. As of Dec. 2, the state’s rolling seven-day average positivity rate was at 13/1%. Any positivity rate above 10% means the state is considered “high risk.”

Since the outbreak began in March, 2.7 million Minnesotans have been tested for COVID-19. Of those who tested positive, more than 341,000 have recovered and no longer need to self-isolate.

As for the vaccine, health officials say the first batch of doses will arrive in Minnesota this week. After it does, health care workers will be trained on how to administer it. During the week of Christmas, health care workers are expected to receive their first vaccine injections. Those who get the vaccine need to receive it twice, weeks apart, for it to be effective.

Over the next four weeks, Minnesota is expected to receive more than 183,000 doses of the vaccine.