By WCCO-TV

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minnesota health officials reported Sunday 2,534 more cases of COVID-19 in the state and 40 more deaths. The Minnesota Department of Health says the numbers released included figures from both Friday and Saturday, making up for a break over the Christmas holiday.

With the new figures, the state’s total COVID-19 case count stands at 409,061 and the death toll has climbed to 5,147. Of the recent fatalities, 27 of the victims were residents in long-term care facilities. About 65% of all the virus-related deaths in Minnesota have been residents in nursing homes, assisted living or other such long-term care facilities.

While December has been the deadliest month in Minnesota since the outbreak reached the state in March, hospitalizations and daily new case counts are trending downward. At the start of this month, more than 1,800 people were hospitalized with the virus, with nearly 400 patients in intensive care beds. As of last week, about 1,000 people were hospitalized, with about 230 patients in intensive care.

Meanwhile, the state remains under tight restrictions that’ll last into the new year. While Gov. Tim Walz has recently allowed gyms to reopen at limited capacity, restaurants and bars are ordered to remain closed to indoor dining until Jan. 11. The governor’s dial-back order was initially issued in late November at a time when COVID-19 case counts, hospitalizations and deaths were surging.

During the week of Christmas, the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine were administered to some residents in long-term care facilities. Next week, CVS Health plans to have teams visit nearly 600 long-term care facilities in the state to begin inoculating residents and workers. Shipments of both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have reached Minnesota.

Last week, the first doses of Pfizer’s vaccine arrived in the state and were administered to frontline health care workers. Such workers, along with residents in long-term care, are the state’s first priority in regards to the vaccine. By the end of January, most residents in long-term care will have had the chance to receive the first of two vaccine shots.

As for the general public, the vaccine is not expected to be available for several months. In the meantime, health officials are encouraging people to continue to wear masks, social distance and get tested. Since the pandemic began, more than 2.9 million people have been tested in Minnesota. Of those who tested positive, nearly 389,000 have recovered and no longer need to self-isolate.