By WCCO-TV Staff

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Health officials on Friday reported 3,661 new cases of COVID-19 and 20 deaths, as the state’s average positivity rate rises to 7.6%.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the state has recorded 735,646 cases of COVID-19 and 8,295 deaths. According to the daily update, four of the deaths reported on Friday took place in September of 2021.

Case growth and hospitalization figures have been on the rise; as of last week, Minnesota is seeing 50.1 new cases per 100,000 residents, a figure not seen since fall of 2020. Hospitalizations are reaching 13.6 admissions per 100,000 residents, well into the “high risk” category.

Health officials are raising alarms about the rise in hospital and ICU capacity, saying workers are exhausted and leaving the profession at record levels. As of Thursday afternoon, there were 871 people in Minnesota hospitals, of which 236 were in the ICU.

There were 13 pediatric beds available throughout the state, and in the Twin Cities, 1.6% of staffed ICU beds are available. No beds were available in northwestern Minnesota. At both of North Memorial Health’s hospitals, all beds were completely occupied, according to the health care system’s CEO Dr. Kevin Croston.

Meanwhile, the state has administered over 6.5 million COVID-19 vaccines and 150,000 booster shots. Roughly 58.4% of the state’s population is fully vaccinated, and 49% of 12- to 15-year-olds have received both Pfizer doses.

Pfizer submitted a request to the Food and Drug Administration on Thursday asking for the go-ahead to administer vaccine doses to children aged 5 to 11. The company said research showed that younger children should receive a third of the dose which is currently given to the rest of the population.

The authorization request comes as COVID-19 cases are on the rise especially in schools. In Minnesota, roughly 7,000 COVID-19 cases have been tied to schools since Labor Day, and the health department reported late Thursday that an 11th school staff member had died due to the virus. It was the third recorded death of a school employee during this school year.