MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A day before relaxed COVID-19 restrictions were to take effect in Minnesota, state health officials on Sunday reported 2,165 more cases of the virus and 44 more deaths.
The latest update from the Minnesota Department of Health brings the cumulate case count to 436,572 and the death toll to 5,707. Of the most recent deaths, 27 were residents in long-term care facilities, the demographic that has suffered 64% of Minnesota’s pandemic deaths.
As of late last week, 759 people were battling COVID-19 in Minnesota hospitals, with 130 people in intensive care beds. These figures are down significantly from late November, when about 1,800 people were hospitalized with the virus, prompting Gov. Tim Walz to tighten the state’s COVID-19 restrictions for weeks and extending them through the holidays.
On Saturday, health officials announced that the COVID-19 variant first detected in the United Kingdom had reached Minnesota. Five people in four counties tested positive for the new strain, which is thought to be more contagious than the one already in Minnesota. Those infected with the new strain were not hospitalized. Health officials say that the vaccines currently being administered are effective against the new strain.
Nearly 120,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in Minnesota, health officials say. Still, the rollout has been slower than expected. Late last week, Gov. Tim Walz joined a handful of other governors in urging the incoming Biden Administration to release doses reserved for an individual’s second shot in an effort to speed up inoculations.
In Minnesota, frontline health care workers and those in long-term care facilities are currently receiving the vaccines. Every Minnesotan in these high priority groups is expected to have had the chance to be inoculated the end of the month. According to health officials, those in the general public shouldn’t expect to get a vaccine until late spring or early summer.
On Monday, loosened COVID-19 restrictions will go into effect for bars and restaurants, movie theaters, places of worship, and small gatherings. Under the updated guidelines, bars and restaurants will be able to reopen indoor dining at 50% capacity. Still, residents in Minneapolis won’t be able to belly up to the bar, as Mayor Jacob Frey said Friday that he’s continuing the ban on bar seating.
Since the start of the outbreak in March, more than 3 million people in Minnesota have been tested for the virus. Of those who’ve tested positive, 414,756 have recovered and no longer need to self-isolate. In the last 24 hours, more than 40,000 tests were processed in Minnesota. According to the state’s Dial Back Dashboard, the state’s rolling seven-day average positivity rate was at 6.9% as of Dec. 30, a a 2% increase from the week prior.
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