MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) - A day after the Minnesota Department of Health announced that hospitals can start distributing the vaccine to anyone 65 years and older, they also reported an additional 1,640 cases of COVID and 33 deaths.
The update from MDH shows the state's total case count at 443,562, while 5,850 people have died. Of the deaths reported Friday, 18 took place in a long-term care facility, and one person in the latter half of their 40s died in Hennepin County.
On Thursday afternoon, Minnesota health officials adjusted the COVID vaccine distribution plan to align with the federal government. Previously, the state had been working to vaccinate frontline health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities. However, Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said the new plan to distribute the vaccine to those 65 and older will "free" health care providers to use all available doses as quickly as possible, though the state needs more doses from federal officials.
So far, 162,040 Minnesotans have received at least one vaccine dose, while 24,745 people have completed both the vaccination steps. Roughly 2.9% of Minnesotans have at least one vaccine dose. According to the vaccine data dashboard, 36.6% of the state's supply has been used.
While vaccination is a large step forward in mitigating the spread of the disease, COVID testing is one of the state's main methods in slowing the virus. In the last 24 hours, 46,861 COVID tests were processed. Due to Friday's snowy weather, some testing sites - in Albert Lea, Morris, Mankato, Hutchinson, and Worthington - are closed for the day.
As of Thursday afternoon, there were 612 people in Minnesota hospitals with the virus, of which 125 were in the ICU. Since March, a total of 23,185 people have been hospitalized due to COVID. However, the hospitalization rate per 100,000 people has dropped dramatically since the high in mid-November; as of Jan. 6, there were 12.6 new COVID hospitalizations per 100,000 residents (numbers lag due to delays in data).
The seven-day average rolling positivity rate sits at 7.2%, in the "caution" category. Community spread continues to hover around the 35% mark.
Of those who have contracted the disease, 422,289 no longer need to self-isolate.
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