MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — As hospitals start reinstating visitor restrictions due to the strain of the Delta variant, health officials on Thursday reported an additional 6,352 virus cases and 18 more deaths, bringing the state’s total above 8,000 at roughly the same time that the country’s death toll has matched that of the 1918-19 influenza pandemic.

According to the Minnesota Department of Health’s daily update, the state’s total positive cases have risen to 690,391 since the pandemic began, with 8,011 deaths attributed to the virus.

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Meanwhile, the latest rolling seven-day average positivity rate has gone down a few notches, from 7.1% to 6.8%, as reported Tuesday. The positivity rate, which went as far down as 1.1% in late June, remains in the “caution” status; the line for high risk is drawn at 10%.

Total ICU bed usage among COVID-19 patients is as high as it’s been throughout 2021, at 222. (The peak number of recorded ICU patients with COVID-19 was at the beginning of Dec. 2020, at nearly 400.) Additionally, there are currently 569 COVID-19 patients being hospitalized in non-ICU beds.

The rate of new COVID hospitalizations per 100,000 residents is up to 12.2, a height not seen since the end of April.

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As of Thursday morning, figures from the Minnesota Department of Health showed that about 72.9% of Minnesotans 16 or older had received at least one dose, and 93.3% of those 65 or older had received at least one dose. In total, the state has administered 6,357,428 doses of vaccine, with about 3.2 million residents having completed their vaccine series.

There are also a reported 37.8 daily new cases per 100,000 Minnesota residents, which puts the state well above the line considered high risk, and still rising. The state spent the early part of summer well below the line of caution, which is drawn at only five new cases daily per 100,000 residents.

COVID-19 has now killed about as many Americans as the 1918-19 Spanish flu pandemic, with a toll of approximately 675,000. Like that pandemic, the coronavirus may never entirely disappear from our midst. Instead, scientists hope it becomes a mild seasonal bug as human immunity strengthens through vaccination and repeated infection, but that could take some time.

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