By WCCO-TV Staff

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – As the school year begins for many Minnesota students, health officials in the state reported 2,088 COVID-19 cases and 12 deaths.

The data – which is up to date as of Friday due to the holiday weekend – shows that there has been a total of 657,492 COVID-19 cases since last March, and 7,856 deaths.

The seven-day average positivity rate has hovered around the 6.6% since the end of August, after a sharp rise due to the Delta variant. The state is also now seeing 27.3 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents.

As of Friday, there were 158 patients in intensive care in Minnesota, with 457 in non-ICU beds. In all, 35,600 people have been hospitalized due to the virus.

At the same time, the state has administered over 6.2 million vaccines, and 56.2% of the state’s population is fully inoculated. State data shows that 92% of people 65 and older have gotten at least their first dose of the vaccine.

Gov. Tim Walz’s office announced Tuesday that 3,118 people were vaccinated at the community clinic at the Minnesota State Fair. Of those people, 3,042 claimed a $100 Visa gift card for getting a shot.

“Thank you to everyone who made this convenient vaccination opportunity for Minnesotans possible,” Walz said in a statement. “We need every eligible Minnesotan to roll up their sleeves and get their shot so we can have a safe, healthy fall and make our schools safer for students and teachers. Our children who cannot yet get vaccinated are relying on you.”

The vaccine data dashboard also shows that 51% of children between 12 and 15 have received their first shot, while 58% of 16- and 17-year-olds have their first dose.

Health officials say, especially as the school year gets underway, that getting vaccinated is the best way to protect against the virus.

Within its first week back, the Albert Lea School District quarantined 290 kids, after 36 children tested positive. By the end of the second week, there were 66 COVID-19 cases in the district. The outbreak prompted the district to institute a mask mandate for children in 6th grade through 12th grade.

Last Friday, the St. Paul Public School District announced a vaccine mandate for all staff, a policy which goes into effect in mid-October. Those who are not vaccinated must submit to regular testing.

The CDC recommends indoor masking for all students and staff to limit the spread of the Delta variant.