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Sunday, May 29, 2022

COVID-19 Friday update: Flood of Omicron cases lowers count

Minnesota’s final month of coronavirus cases, the worst of its pandemic as it was driven by the highly infectious Omron variant, was an undercount as so many positive tests are reported as state health officials struggle to process them in a timely manner.

“There is a lot more COVID-19 circulating in our area than our data suggests,” Kristin Sweet, an epidemiologist at the Minnesota Department of Health, said Friday.

To address this, state health officials added a new piece of pandemic data to the daily update on Friday: positive tests awaiting review. According to that measure, about 20 per cent of the more than 212,000 positive tests the state has received so far this month, or 46,006 cases, still need to be processed before being added to the official tally.

Sweet said that after the health department is notified of a positive test result, staff should review the case to make sure it’s a resident of Minnesota and that the positive test isn’t a duplicate. Doing so takes time and the recent flood of infections has led to a backlog.

The Minnesota Department of Health has no effect of delaying when a person is notified of their test results, Sweet said.

The cases awaiting review are separate from the daily tally of confirmed infections. Another 11,828 new, confirmed cases were reported on Friday, pushing the state’s case total to 1,216,734 since March 2020.

Ongoing delays in processing new tests have made it difficult to measure the exact size of the current Omicron surge. The state’s delayed measurement of positive tests, which has a delay of a week or more to allow data correction, reflects test positivity above 23 percent.

Minnesota is also reporting, an average of 226 new infections per 100,000 residents every day. Both of those measures are pandemic records.

Omicron is believed to cause less severe disease in many people, especially those who are fully vaccinated, but the rate of hospitalization and death is still high due to the sheer volume of new infections.

Another 36 people also died on Friday, taking the death toll to 11,151. Those who died on Friday ranged in age from 40 to their late 90s.

Eight were in long-term care and 28 lived in private homes. About 47 percent of Minnesota’s COVID-19 deaths are long-term care residents and about 82 percent are senior citizens.

Hospital capacity remains tight in most parts of Minnesota. There are 1,571 patients hospitalized, including 241 in intensive care.

Health officials say vaccines, as well as booster doses, are the best way to avoid serious infections and slow the spread of the coronavirus. Other mitigation measures, such as social distancing and wearing of masks, are also encouraged.

Minnesota has given 9 million doses of the vaccine, including 1.9 million boosters. About 69 percent of eligible Minnesotans, ages 5 and older, have completed their initial vaccination series.

However, breakthrough infections continue to rise and now account for about 27 percent of infections since vaccination was introduced a year ago.

World Nation News Desk
World Nation News Deskhttps://www.worldnationnews.com
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