MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Daily COVID-19 case numbers are mounting in Minnesota, and state health officials say the highly-transmissible Delta variant is to blame.

In Wednesday’s update from the Minnesota Department of Health, five deaths and 278 new cases of the virus were reported. In the last 24 hours, 12,657 tests were processed, suggesting a daily positivity rate of 2.2%.

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The weekly average positive rate has increased to 1.9%, nearly a full percentage point higher than it was late last month. Additionally, average daily case counts and hospitalizations have also increased over the same period.

Health officials say that almost everyone currently contracting COVID is unvaccinated, with 75% of the new cases being linked to the Delta variant.

While the state is encouraging people to get vaccinated, the numbers have stalled, with about 70% of adults having received at least one shot.

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Yet, children as young as 12 are able to get the vaccine. When figuring for the entire eligible population, 56% have received their first shot while 53% are fully inoculated.

Dr. Gregory Poland, a leading expert on vaccines at the Mayo Clinic, told WCCO-TV Tuesday that there’s no question Minnesota is experiencing a surge in COVD-19 cases.

“It’s a serious warning for us in Minnesota,” he said. “We are seeing the Delta variant really take over.”

He encourages Minnesotans to get themselves and their teenage children vaccinated. He also encourages mask-wearing and agrees with the guidance issued this week from the American Academy of Pediatrics, which called for students to wear masks when returning to school whether or not they’re vaccinated.

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Since the start of the pandemic more than a year ago, more than 600,000 Minnesotans have contracted the virus, and 7,644 people have died.