By WCCO-TV Staff

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — As vaccine eligibility expands to nearly 2 million more Minnesotans Wednesday, state health officials reported nine more COVID-19 deaths and 922 new virus cases.

According to Minnesota’s health department, there have now been more than 493,000 cases of COVID-19 discovered in the state since the pandemic began, with the death toll now at 6,705. Just under 63% of the deaths have been in long-term care and assisted living facilities.

State officials announced Tuesday said that vaccine eligibility is expanding weeks ahead of schedule after reaching the goal of vaccinating 70% of seniors.

As of the latest data from Monday, 68% of seniors received at least one vaccine dose and over 1.1 million people total have had at least one vaccine dose. Additionally, 615,000 people in the state have completed the vaccine series.

The state’s positivity rate is now at 3.5% as of March 1, due to data lag. It’s a seven-day rolling average.