COVID-19 in Minnesota: The outlook remains hopeful; Ready-made state vaccines for children 5-11

3 things to know:

  • 1,810 newly confirmed or probable cases, 31 newly reported deaths

  • 16,790 known active cases; 911 is currently in hospital

  • 74.6 percent of the population 16 years of age or older has had at least one dose of vaccine

Updated 2:42 PM

Although some trend lines are up, overall COVID-19 data in Minnesota still suggests that the worst of the current wave is over. State officials are now shifting their focus on vaccination to some of the state’s youngest residents who will soon be eligible.

It is known that active cases recorded 16,790 cases on Wednesday with 1,810 new daily cases reported. Both metrics fell to their lowest point in more than a month.

The rate of positive COVID-19 tests has settled at less than 7 percent, according to MPR News calculations — above the 5 percent that officials see as worrying but so far no signs of rising.

Hospitals continue to fall off their recent highs.

The number of beds had crossed 1,000 earlier this month, which puts Huge pressure on the state’s understaffed care systemsHowever, hospital admissions declined in reports published over the course of the week. There are now 911 people in Minnesota hospitals with COVID; 220 need intensive care.

Diagram of new ICUs and unaccompanied COVID-19 hospitalizations

State public health leaders continue to stress that COVID-19 numbers in Minnesota remain relatively high and that another increase is possible. They continue to appeal to the people of Minnesota to remain vigilant against disease and vaccinate if they qualify.

New COVID-19 cases by Minnesota region

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Motivated by a highly contagious delta variant, the entire state, with the exception of Cook County in the Arrowhead region, is showing a high level of transmission of COVID-19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The state’s death toll stood at 8,612, including 31 deaths reported most recently on Wednesday. Deaths usually come after a sharp rise in cases and hospitalizations. In past waves of COVID-19, these have been the last major metrics that have been improved.

New deaths related to COVID-19 are reported in Minnesota every day

Thanks to vaccinations, Minnesota is still in a better position now than it was during the fall and spring booms. More than 73 percent of the state’s population age 12 or older have received at least one vaccination, with 70 percent now fully vaccinated.

Graph showing total COVID-19 vaccinations by age

However, the struggle to vaccinate more Minnesota residents continues, and wide gaps in vaccination rates persist between districts and counties.

Map of eligible vaccination rate for Minnesota COVID-19

State vaccinations are preparing for children aged 5-11

State officials say they are preparing to vaccinate thousands of Minnesota children ages 5 to 11 after a federal regulatory committee gave initial approval for the use of the Pfizer vaccine.

Governor Tim Walz said in a statement Wednesday that state health care providers will be ready to begin giving the COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine to children ages 5 to 11 once federal recommendations are finalized next week.

Based on the schedule, providers say they can be ready to give the picks up as early as November 4. There are about 500,000 children in that age group. Minnesota’s health commissioner, Jean Malcolm, said this week that Minnesota will have 170,000 rounds ready to go once federal authorities give the green light.

Malcolm called the upcoming vaccination effort “really good news” in an effort to protect children from COVID, noting that Minnesota has seen more than 45,000 cases of the disease in children since July, with 300 hospitalizations.

In Dakota County, officials expect to be able to provide about 200 doses to children in the week of November 8. That number may increase or decrease in subsequent weeks upon request, said Kristen Liss, the county’s public health superintendent.

Liz said parents can also expect to have opportunities to vaccinate children at school.

“What we’re working on is really trying to fill in the gaps that exist around our primary care clinics and our pediatric clinics,” Lise added. “So what’s different this time is that we have more providers who are able to deliver the vaccine than we had before when we started with adults.”

Per capita number of new cases of COVID-19, by age

Dr Nipponi Rajapakse said children are much less likely than adults to be seriously ill, hospitalized or die from COVID-19, but that doesn’t mean parents should hesitate to vaccinate their children against the virus. Mayo Clinic pediatric infectious disease expert.

“It is relatively uncommon for children to end up in the intensive care unit or die from COVID-19,” she said. “But from speaking to parents and children who have ended up in the United States, I can say that I rarely feel rare when your child is sitting in an ICU bed.”

Rajapakse said clinical trials show that some children may experience mild side effects from the Pfizer vaccine, including sore legs or arms and some tiredness.

She added that vaccinating children against the virus also reduces transmission of COVID-19, limiting the chances of the virus turning into something more contagious or more deadly.

Hear Wednesday’s briefing on COVID-19 from state public health leaders:

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