Minnesota Department of Health on Friday reported 5,685 new cases of COVID-19 infection and 62 more deaths from the latest outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.
The ongoing surge has pushed morbidity, hospitalizations, and deaths to levels not seen since December 2020, during the state’s largest surge, before vaccines became available.
While new infections have been on a downward trend, they are up again this week, although Thanksgiving has made it difficult to present data for the past two weeks.
Meanwhile, health officials said Thursday that a new variant of the coronavirus, the omicron, had been discovered in Minnesota. The infected person traveled to New York and returned home, where he tested positive. He has since recovered but has not been hospitalized.
Of the new deaths reported Friday, one in Beltrami County was in a teenager aged 15-19. It was the third such death in this age group since the start of the pandemic in March 2020. Since then, Minnesota has recorded 9,616 deaths. then.
Of the 62 deaths reported on Friday, 41 were living in private homes and 21 in long-term or elderly care facilities.
There are currently 1,556 COVID-19 patients hospitalized across the state, including 353 in intensive care units. More than 1,500 patients with coronavirus were last admitted to hospital in December 2020, and the peak of hospitalizations reached more than 1,860 in November last year.
The workload of hospitals is stressful for public hospitals. According to Friday, 98 percent of adult intensive care beds in the state are full, while 96 percent of non-intensive care beds are full.
Additional federal medical personnel were scheduled to arrive in the state on Friday to help relieve the burden of hospital staff in Edin. This is the third facility to receive federal support.
Health officials say the more contagious delta variant is the source of nearly all infections in Minnesota, and that the increase is due to an unvaccinated population. They continue to urge people to get vaccinated, stating that this is the best way to avoid serious illness and slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Booster vaccines are also recommended for all adults, as breakouts continue to rise as more virus circulates and immunity declines for several months after the initial shots, which were targeted at older adults and other people with weakened immune systems.
More than 70 percent of eligible Minnesotans received at least one dose of the vaccine. About 65 percent are fully vaccinated. This means that about 1.5 million people in the state are left unprotected from the worst consequences of acute infection: hospitalization and death.
GOVERNMENT SHARES OUT HOME TESTS
Meanwhile, Gov. Tim Walls announced Friday that the state is about to receive 1 million additional COVID-19 home rapid tests for Minnesota families.
The state expects to receive BD Veritor At-Home Rapid Test Kits next month and will distribute them to child care providers and schools for distribution to students and families. State health and education officials have already sent out another set of home tests to schools and set up additional testing centers across Minnesota to detect COVID-19.
Walz said in a press release that starting Monday, some school vaccination centers will offer booster doses to adults taking their children to vaccinate with COVID-19. In general, according to him, in December or early January, activators will receive 35 school sites.
“We’re taking it one step further today to meet people where they are and to make vaccination and testing for COVID-19 as comfortable as possible for Minnesotans,” Waltz said. “I urge everyone in Minnesota to get vaccinated, get additional vaccinations and get tested to stay safe this holiday season.”