MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — With an announcement expected soon on vaccine eligibility expansion, Minnesota health officials on Thursday reported 1,857 more COVID-19 cases and 16 additional deaths. Meanwhile, over 26% of the state’s population has received at least one vaccine dose.

The updated data from the Minnesota Department of Health has the total tally of COVID-19 cases at 510,398 since the pandemic began. The death toll is now at 6,814, with over 62% of the deaths occurring in long-term care facilities.

Hospitalizations for the virus now total 26,939, with 5,536 of those patients needing intensive care treatment. Over 492,000 people who contracted the virus no longer need to isolate themselves.

The state’s latest positivity rate, a seven-day rolling average, continues to increase. It’s at 4.6% as of March 16, due to data lag. The positivity rate had hovered around the 3.5% mark for most of February and early March.

Over 8 million total COVID-19 tests have been completed in Minnesota.

Latest Vaccine Data, Eligibility Expected To Expand

As of the latest data from March 23, the state is approaching 1.5 million people who have received at least one vaccine dose — over 26% of the state’s population. Over 878,000 people have completed their vaccine series — nearly 16% of the state’s population.

An announcement is expected on eligibility expansion by the end of the week. Once a resident is eligible for a vaccine, it may take time to get an appointment. Fairview and Allina Health tell WCCO they’re scheduling about three to four weeks out.

The health department says providers are told to give vaccines to the highest priority groups first. Right now, more than 79% of Minnesotans older than 65 have received at least one dose.