By WCCO-TV Staff

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Health officials in Minnesota reported 1,632 new cases of COVID-19 and 10 deaths Wednesday.

Figures show the average positivity rate has officially reached 5%, or the “caution” threshold defined by the Minnesota Department of Health. The last time the positivity rate was this high was in May, when the state was coming down from the most recent surge of COVID-19.

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Hospitalizations are also on the rise; as of last week the state was seeing 4.9 admissions per 100,000 residents. On Tuesday afternoon there were 322 people in Minnesota hospitals with COVID-19. Ninety-six of those cases required intensive care.

Health experts are concerned about the rise of the Delta variant, which spreads twice as easily from one person to another. MDH officials said last week that 82% of Minnesota cases involve the variant, and 80% of the cases are in unvaccinated people.

The CDC also changed its mask guidance last week after learning that it is possible for vaccinated people to spread this variant. It now recommends that fully vaccinated people who live in areas of “substantial” or “high” COVID-19 transmission wear masks indoors, including in Hennepin and Anoka counties.

But health experts stress that breakthrough cases are rare; just Tuesday the MDH released data showing that less than 0.2% of fully vaccinated people contracted COVID-19. Officials say the best method to protect against COVID-19 is to get the vaccine.

Rougly 54.4% of Minnesotans are fully vaccinated, while 57.9% have received their first dose. Data shows that 92% of those 65 and older have received their first dose. The least vaccinated age group are the 12- to 15-year-olds, as 37% have completed the series.

READ MORE: MN Doctor Says Hospitals Strained By COVID Patients, And 'Vaccination Is The Answer'

Gov. Tim Walz announced on Twitter Wednesday morning that more than 30,000 Minnesotans have already signed up to receive their $100 vaccine reward, the latest round of incentives initiated by the state and the MDH. Those who receive their first dose of the vaccine between July 30 and Aug. 15 will get a $100 Visa gift card. Walz is especially encouraging vaccinations as the school year approaches.

Since last March, there have been 622,216 cases of COVID-19 in Minnesota and 7,715 deaths due to the virus. In the last 24 hours, over 22,000 COVID-19 tests have been processed.

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