Minnesota’s latest spike of coronavirus cases continues to slowly decline, but the rate of new infections and hospitalizations is well above state health officials’ high-risk limits.
Barring a brief increase in early June, for more than a month, the rate of new cases has declined, albeit slowly. This blip was likely due to delay in reporting because of Memorial Day.
Still, the state’s seven-day average of more than 30 cases per 100,000 residents is more than three times the Minnesota Department of Health threshold that it considers high-risk. This is certainly less because of the popularity of home tests, which are not reported to the state.
Health officials now consider wastewater data and hospitalization rates to be better measures of the current size of the outbreak. The prevalence of coronavirus genetic material in wastewater has gradually declined in recent weeks, according to data from the Metropolitan Council and the University of Minnesota.
Hospitalizations remain high, but nowhere near as high as the final peak in January. Currently 429 patients are hospitalized, of whom 31 are in intensive care.
Eight more COVID-19 deaths were reported on Wednesday, taking the pandemic figure to 12,731. The current seven-day rolling average for newly reported deaths is about six per day.
Those whose deaths were recorded on Wednesday ranged in age from their late 50s to over 100. Five lived in long-term care, two lived in private homes and one lived in a behavioral health facility.
Data from health departments and sewage systems across the state shows that the Omicron type and its related strains of coronavirus are now responsible for nearly all infections. Omicron is better able to avoid the protection provided by vaccines, although the shots still help prevent serious illness and death.
After five months of getting the shot, protection drops significantly and a vaccine booster is recommended for every eligible person.
State data for the past 60 days shows that people with boosters were four times less likely to be hospitalized and three times less likely to die from COVID-19 than those without vaccinations.
Minnesota has given more than 10 million doses of the vaccine, including about 2.3 million boosters.
About 67 percent of Minnesota’s 5.7 million residents have completed their initial series of vaccinations. Only 44 percent of Minnesotans are up-to-date on their recommended boosters.