MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minnesota health officials on Tuesday reported nearly 500 Minnesotans are hospitalized due to the coronavirus as case numbers continue to rise despite the state's vaccination campaign.
The Minnesota Department of Health on Tuesday reported 3,014 new confirmed cases and four more deaths over the last three days. Reporting had been delayed due to a technical issue on Saturday and the Easter holiday on Sunday.
Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm expressed concern at the growing number of cases, citing a seven-day test positivity rate of 6% that continues to show signs of increasing after climbing above the caution threshold of 5% last week.
“You've heard us mention a number of times, especially in the recent couple of weeks, that we're definitely not out of the woods yet with this pandemic,” Malcolm said during a news conference.
Malcolm said hospital bed use due to COVID-19 has increased 40% in the last 10 days, and 497 Minnesotans were hospitalized Tuesday, including 114 in intensive care.
Malcolm said the state’s efforts to prioritize vaccinations in populations most vulnerable to the virus could prevent a spike in cases, hospitalizations and deaths as seen during a surge late last year.
As of Sunday, more than 1.8 million Minnesotans have received at least one dose of vaccine, and nearly 1.2 million have been fully vaccinated. At least 42% of Minnesotans 16 and older have received one dose, including 83% of people 65 and older.
Minnesota is expecting to receive nearly 142,000 vaccine doses from the federal government for next week — which does not include allocations to retail pharmacies and 168,000 doses reserved for a Federal Emergency Management Agency vaccination site launching next week. The dip from last week's allotment of nearly 212,000 doses is due to a decrease in doses from Johnson & Johnson stemming from both manufacturing issues and a general inconsistency in vaccine supply, according to a health department spokesman.
Gov. Tim Walz on Tuesday also launched an outreach campaign aimed at vaccinating Minnesota workers in frontline industries at state-run community vaccination sites in the coming weeks. The campaign, which is part of a broader statewide effort called “Roll Up Your Sleeves, MN,” begins this week with food service workers at restaurants, bars and breweries across the state.
Mohamed Ibrahim is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.
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