MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. (WCCO) – COVID-19 cases keep climbing in Minnesota. While most are less severe, the weekly case rate has doubled statewide in the past month.

On Friday, the Minnesota Department of Health reported 1,979 new cases and five deaths. Hospitalizations are also up.

“It’s kind of exciting to travel, it’s the first conference I’ve been to in three years, so it’ll be nice to see my friends and colleagues again,” said Boston resident Megan Parisi.

As visitors like Parisi descend on Minneapolis for a jam-packed weekend of sporting events, concerts and conferences, city officials hope they remembered their masks which are now recommended to be worn indoors regardless of vaccination status.

“I don’t see anybody doing it. I walked through the skyway this morning to get coffee and I didn’t see a lot of people with masks,” Kamran Makki said.

While the city of Minneapolis is reporting high community transmission, the CDC categorizes Hennepin County as as whole to be at low risk.

Wabasha and Olmsted counties, however, are seeing high transmission, along with Barron and Rusk counties in Wisconsin, according to the CDC metrics.

“We don’t want to get to a point where hospitals are overwhelmed, and we are in that situation again,” Luisa Pessoa-Brandão, Minneapolis’s Manager of Epidemiology, Research, & Evaluation and Emergency Preparedness said.

In Minneapolis, the seven-day new case rate since mid-March has increased by 340%. While the dominant omicron subvariant BA.2 appears to be less severe, hospitalizations are creeping up though nowhere near levels seen earlier in the pandemic.

“Unfortunately, COVID has not gone away, the trends are not going in the right direction, and we know masking is a good preventative measure,” Pessoa-Brandão said.

New wastewater surveillance data released Friday by the Met Council identified traces of a new, faster-spreading variant driving cases up in other parts of the country. Still, the BA.2 variant accounts for 97% of the viral material found in our wastewater.

Kirsten Mitchell