CHASKA, Minn. (WCCO) — The Minnesota Department of Health says we’re making progress in the fight against COVID-19 but we’re not out of the woods.
Cases are growing, according to the latest numbers.READ MORE: COVID In Minnesota: As State Reaches 2 Million With First Vaccine Dose, MDH Reports 1,784 Cases, 13 Deaths Sunday
The seven-day positivity rate is now at 4.6 percent. There are almost 19 cases per 100,000 people and there are 93 patients in the ICU.
All these numbers are the highest we’ve seen in two months.
It appears more contagious COVID variants are playing a role.
Health officials say letting our guard down now could prevent us from reaching the finish line.
Earlier this month, the focus of the B117 variant — first found in the UK — was in Carver County. But in the state’s latest sampling batch of COVID-19 tests, they identified 479 infections of the more contagious variant.
“We are seeing variants circulating across the state,” Minnesota Department of Health infectious disease expert Kris Ehersmann said.
The state has made considerable progress in vaccinating the most vulnerable. But health officials are concerned that people are letting their guard down with other protective measures as the more contagious variants spread.READ MORE: Minnesota Stares Down Another COVID-19 Surge
“Our positivity, that is starting to increase. We’re starting to see our case rate increase. And so all of those things concern us,” Ehersmann said
Ehersmann says vaccine manufacturers are currently looking at the effectiveness of their shots against known variants that didn’t exist during the Pfizer and Moderna trials.
However, Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine was tested in places where variants were already circulating.
“We can’t say, oh the vaccine is x percent effective against a certain variant,” Ehersmann said
Minnesota has also seen 108 cases of two newer variants first detected in California.
There have been six known cases in the state of the variant that was first detected in South Africa and two of the P-1, first found in Brazil.
Ehresmann says the biggest reason people still need to take precautions and get their vaccine is to prevent the disease from mutating further and potentially to a more dangerous type.
“This virus has knocked our globe on its heels and we need to take it seriously,” Ehersmann said.MORE NEWS: COVID In Minnesota: 2,454 New Cases And 12 Deaths Reported; Over 30% Of Eligible Minnesotans Are Fully Vaccinated
The state currently samples up to 500 random COVID tests each week to test them for any variants, in addition to testing areas with rapid case growth. Soon, they anticipate testing 1,500 samples a week.