MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Hours after the FDA granted full approval for Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, Minnesota health officials reported Monday 1,673 more cases of the virus and seven more deaths. Meanwhile, health care leaders in the state are struggling with the recent surge brought on by the Delta variant.
While state data shows that the current surge is smaller than previous ones, doctors say it’s mainly impacting Minnesotans who are unvaccinated, which is roughly 40% of the state’s total population. Additionally, more younger people are needing treatment and staying in the hospital for longer periods of time.
Kate Mudrey-Wilsman, an ICU nurse at North Memorial Hospital in Robbinsdale, told WCCO-TV that patients she’s treating are younger than they’ve ever been.
As of Friday, more than 500 people were battling the virus in Minnesota hospitals, with 138 patients in intensive care beds. In the last month, ICU hospitalizations have more than tripled. Of the 1,208 ICU beds available across the state, 1,132 (or 93%) are in use. Per state statistics, the average hospitalization rate is currently at 7.7 admissions per 100,000 residents, just below the level considered “high risk.”
The spread of the virus shows few signs of slowing. The state is averaging more than 20 cases a day per 100,000 residents, significantly above what health officials consider “high risk” for case growth. For perspective, the average daily figure was under 2 cases per 100,000 residents as recently as early July.
The positivity rate also continues to climb. As of last week, the seven-day rolling average was at 5.5%. Not since May has the rate been that high.
Vaccination figures are slowly increasing as students get ready for the return to the classroom. About 48% of Minnesotans between the ages of 12 and 15 have received at least one dose. For older teens, the figure is higher, around 56%. Children younger than 12 are not eligible for the vaccine, although health experts hope it is approved for young children later this year.
Gov. Tim Walz’s office announced Monday the state’s $100 vaccine incentive resulted in 79,810 new vaccinations since July 30.
“The best way to manage COVID-19 is by vaccinating more of our friends and neighbors,” Walz said. “This program went a long way toward increasing statewide vaccination rates and building the community program we need against the virus.”
Last week, federal health officials said Americans will need to get a booster shot eight months after they received their second Pfizer or Moderna dose, so as to get continued protection for the virus and variants. Officials anticipate those who received the single dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine will also need a booster.
As for FDA approvals, Moderna said it plans to finish its application this month. Johnson & Johnson plans to file for full approval this year following trials. For comparison, Pfizer submitted its application in May.
Since the start of the pandemic, more than 635,000 people in Minnesota have contracted the virus, and 7,767 people have died.
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