MINNESOTA (WCCO) — Minnesota health officials reported Tuesday 1,032 new cases of COVID-19 and three additional deaths as the Delta variant continues to spread, pushing case counts and hospitalizations to levels not seen since spring.
The large in increase in cases Tuesday is, at least partly, due numbers being processed from the weekend. However, daily case counts have been rising steadily for weeks. The last time Minnesota recorded a day with more than 1,000 new cases was in early May.READ MORE: Grandma, 102, Attends Both Grandsons' Football Game After Recovering From COVID
One of the three deaths recorded in the last 24 hours includes a person in Ramsey County in their mid- to late-20s.
The Minnesota Department of Health says that 75% of new cases in Minnesota can be linked to the highly-contagious new variant, which is mostly affecting the unvaccinated.
While there have been breakthrough cases in fully vaccinated Minnesotans, Health Department Commissioner Jan Malcolm says that 99.9% of people who are vaccinated won’t get the virus. As they have for more months, officials continue to encourage Minnesotans to get the vaccine so as to lessen their chance of contracting the virus or suffering severe illness.
Compared to other states, Minnesota’s vaccination rate is relatively high, even if vaccination rates have slowed substantially in recent weeks. According to health department statistics, about 56% of the state’s total eligible population, those 12 and up, have received at least one shot while 53% have completed their vaccine series.READ MORE: MN Doctor Says Hospitals Strained By COVID Patients, And 'Vaccination Is The Answer'
Still, health officials are concerned about areas of the state where many Minnesotans remain unvaccinated despite widespread availability of the shots.
The spread of the Delta variant is apparent in the increase in the state’s average positivity rate, which was at 2.7% as of last week. While that’s still below the threshold for caution, it’s more than doubled since late last month, when the rate was at 1.1%. Put another way, the rate is again where it was in late May, and it only looks to keep rising if trends continue.
Since late last month, the increase in average daily new cases per 100,000 residents has also doubled, jumping from 1.6 in late June to 4.6 as of last week. Hospitalizations are also up, particularly in those who are in intensive care. As of Monday, 51 patients were in the ICU — up from 19 in the middle of the month.
Nationally, the spread of the Delta variant across the country is prompting the U.S.’s top health agency to take a step back when it comes to masking guidelines. A federal official told CBS News that the Centers for Disease Control is expected Tuesday to recommend that Americans, including those who are fully vaccinated, return to wearing masks indoors in areas where the virus is surging. It’s unclear if Minnesota will be included under these guidelines.MORE NEWS: COVID In MN: MDH Reports 2,645 More Virus Cases As Latest Positivity Rate Hovers At 7.1%
Since the start of the pandemic last March, Minnesota has tallied more than 600,000 cases of the virus and 7,656 deaths.