State On Track To Complete Long-Term Care By End Of MonthBy Caroline Cummings

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minnesota will receive 88,000 total vaccines next week as the state continues to inoculate residents 65 and older, educators, child care workers and long-term care facility residents and staff, state officials said Tuesday.

The vaccine allocation represents a bump of about 5%, Minnesota Health Commissioner Jan Malcom said during a news conference. She said the state is grateful to see yet another increase, but it still falls short of the demand in the state.

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“What we really need is more like doubling, tripling, quadrupling because even at these increments, which we’re grateful for, it’s still only a few thousand [extra] doses a week, which when spread across the state doesn’t feel like a lot to the people in our communities,” Malcom said.

Malcom joined Gov. Tim Walz for a news conference at a long-term care residence in Minneapolis. Walz said the state is on track to finish vaccinating long-term care by the end of February.

“I remember when we were talking about imagine the day we get to go back to these places and they’re vaccinated and the residents are safe,” Walz said. “That day is upon us.”

“This is really the first battle we’re going to win in the war on COVID,” he added.

Nearly 570,000 Minnesotans have received one dose of the vaccine and 162,000 have completed vaccination, according to the most recent data available on the state’s vaccine dashboard. People 65 or older make up more than 233,000 of the individuals who have gotten their first shots.

There are more people vaccinated than confirmed COVID-19 infections in Minnesota.

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Walz spoke with the White House and other governors on the phone Tuesday and said he was encouraged by news of vaccine increases and ongoing developments with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which has applied for emergency use authorization with the FDA.

“The good news is now that federal partner is actively engaged and listening to the conversations from Democratic and Republican governors,” said Walz, who had previously leveled criticism at the previous Trump administration.

This comes as Minnesota has seen positive signs on its road to recovery, with a seven-day test positivity rate of 4% and declining hospitalizations.

Because of these trends, Minnesota House Republicans want to approve a plan that would set benchmarks on the path to fully reopening all businesses by May 1.

Business owners, especially in the hospitality industry, say it would provide much needed certainty as they begin planning for the busier months ahead.

Walz said declining infection rates, number of cases and hospitalizations while vaccinations increase is the “golden movement” officials want to see, but the governor declined to give a specific date for loosening more restrictions.

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“I don’t think you can ever set the date on this, but I feel their sense of urgency,” Walz said.

Caroline Cummings