MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — With the FDA having granted emergency use authorization for a COVID-19 vaccine booster shot for some Americans, health officials on Thursday reported an additional 2,434 virus cases and 24 more deaths.

According to the Minnesota Department of Health’s daily update, the state’s total positive cases have risen to 694,320 since the pandemic began, with 8,049 deaths attributed to the virus.

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Meanwhile, the latest rolling seven-day average positivity rate remains at 6.8%, as reported Thursday. 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 remains high, at 214. (The peak number of recorded ICU patients with COVID-19 was at the beginning of Dec. 2020, at nearly 400.) Additionally, there are currently 563 COVID-19 patients being hospitalized in non-ICU beds.

The rate of new COVID hospitalizations per 100,000 residents is at 12.1; the last time it sustained figures that high was at the end of April.

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As of Thursday morning, figures from the Minnesota Department of Health showed that about 73.1% of Minnesotans 16 or older had received at least one dose, and 93.4% of those 65 or older had received at least one dose. In total, the state has administered 6,372,358 doses of vaccine, with about 3.2 million residents having completed their vaccine series.

There are also a reported 37.5 daily new cases per 100,000 Minnesota residents, which puts the state well above the line considered high risk. 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.

Since Labor Day, Minnesota has added nearly 2,200 COVID-19 cases associated with schools. There have also been 11 more hospitalizations, including two students. There have also been two staff deaths recorded in the same time period.

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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