MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A day after Gov. Tim Walz announced that all Minnesotans 16 and older would soon be eligible for the vaccine, health officials reported 1,744 new COVID-19 cases and four deaths.
The update from the Minnesota Department of Health brings the state’s total case count to 513,833 and 6,825 cumulative fatalities. The majority of deaths – 63% – have occurred in long-term care settings, but the death rate has plummeted as seniors receive their vaccine. Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said on Friday that there has been a 96% case drop in Minnesota’s long-term care facilities, leading to a decrease in deaths.
As of Thursday, the state has administered over 2.4 million vaccine doses; roughly 17% of Minnesotans have been fully inoculated. More than 80% of those 65 and older have received at least one dose.
On Tuesday, Minnesota’s vaccine rollout will expand to include everyone 16 and older. Walz made the announcement on Friday after the federal government promised an increase in vaccine supply in April.
The state is asking providers to prioritize vaccinations for older Minnesotans, those with underlying health conditions, and those in frontline jobs. However, from there, providers will have the ability to open appointments to anyone who is eligible.
The vaccine expansion is also coming at a time when COVID-19 variants are spreading throughout the state, fueling an increase in case positivity rate. As of March 17, the seven-day average positivity rate was at 4.7%, a number not seen since the end of January. Hospitalizations too have seen an increase in the last few weeks, rising from a low of 4.3 hospitalizations per 100,000 residents earlier in the month, to 6.7 hospitalizations.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, 27,057 Minnesotans have been hospitalized due to the virus; 5,567 of those cases have involved the ICU.
Over 30,000 COVID-19 tests were processed in the last 24 hours; since last March, over 3.6 million Minnesotans have been tested for the virus.
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