MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — On the day Gov. Tim Walz launched a new tool marking the next step in the vaccine rollout, health officials reported Thursday 928 new cases of COVID-19 and 14 more deaths. Meanwhile, the state is getting ever closer to having given Minnesotans 1 million vaccine doses.
The latest update from the Minnesota Department of Health shows the cumulative coronavirus case count stands at 476,292 in the 11 months since the pandemic began. The state’s death toll has climbed to 6,404, with more than 60% of those killed being residents in long-term care facilities, such as nursing homes and assisted-living facilities.
In recent weeks, the state’s vaccine rollout has expanded to include residents in long-term care, frontline health care workers, teachers, child care workers, and Minnesotans ages 65 and older. As of Tuesday, 975,626 doses have been administered in Minnesota, mostly of the Pfizer vaccine. Some 710,305 people — about 13% of the population — have received their first shot in the series while 264,122 people — nearly 5% of the population — have gotten both doses.
On Thursday, the governor introduced an online tool to help Minnesotans figure out how to get the vaccine when it becomes available to them. It’s called the Vaccine Connector, and it’s free to use. However, it doesn’t set up appointments, it merely shows Minnesotans the clinics, hospitals and state-run sites were they can get it.
“We still have a frustratingly limited vaccine supply from the federal government, but every Minnesotan should know their chance to get a vaccine will come. Today, we are connecting them directly to that process,” Walz said, in a statement.
Also this week, the governor announced an update to the state’s COVID-19 education plan, allowing more students in middle schools and high schools to return to classrooms next week. By early next month, Walz says all schools in the state should offer some form of in-person learning.
In the last 24 hours, nearly 34,000 tests were processed in Minnesota, suggesting a positivity rate of 2.7%. Per the state’s Dial Back Dashboard, the rolling seven-day average positivity rate was at 3.7% as of Feb. 9, marking the lowest it’s been since late May.
Daily new case counts, hospitalizations, and deaths have all dropped significantly since the surge experienced in late autumn. As of Wednesday, 287 people were hospitalized with the virus, with 54 people in intensive care beds — the lowest number since a single day in July.
Since the start of the pandemic, more than 3.3 million people in Minnesota have been tested for the virus. Of those who’ve tested positive, 463,041 have recovered and no longer need to self-isolate.
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