MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – As the efforts to administer the COVID vaccine continue to ramp up, Minnesota health officials reported an additional 1,054 cases and 22 deaths.

Friday’s update from the Minnesota Department of Health brings the state’s total case count to 466,224, while the death toll has now risen to 6,273. The majority of the deaths – 63% – have occurred in long-term care settings.

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However, the state has opened vaccine clinics and started pilot programs to inoculate seniors and those in long-term care. Earlier this week, the state announced  that 35,000 doses would go to seniors, who can get them through their local providers. MDH says 23.1% of those over 65 have had at least one vaccine dose.

On Wednesday, Dr. Michael Osterholm, an infectious disease expert from the University of Minnesota who was chosen for President Joe Biden’s coronavirus task force, said he supported delaying the second dose in order to get more seniors their first. Amidst a vaccine shortage, Minnesota health officials acknowledge that with the current supply, it could take four months to vaccinate all Minnesotans 65 and older.

In total, the state has administered 637,015 vaccines – 9% of Minnesotans have had at least one dose, and 2.5% have completed the two-shot series.

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Minnesota’s seven-day average positivity rate has been falling in recent weeks, reaching 4.2% as of Jan. 27, due to data lag. The positivity rate has not been this low since early July. However, the percentage of cases with no known exposure continues to climb, and has now reached 39%.

Since the pandemic began, 24,617 Minnesotans have been hospitalized for the virus; as of Thursday afternoon, 362 people were in the hospital, of which 82 were in the ICU. The number of hospital admissions has also been dropping since it reached a peak in November. It now sits at 8.6 admissions per 100,000 residents.

In the past 24 hours, the state has processed nearly 39,000 COVID tests. More than 3.2 million Minnesotans have been tested since March.

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