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COVID In Minnesota: State's Now Had Over 10K ICU Hospitalizations Since Start Of Pandemic

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO/AP) -- As the FDA has announced its approval of COVID-19 booster doses for kids as young as 12, Minnesota reported 6,780 new cases and 48 more deaths Wednesday.

The latest figures from the Minnesota Department of Health place the total case count at 1,028,986, which includes 14,701 reinfections. Since the start of the pandemic, 10,564 Minnesotans have died from the virus.

"Today's newly reported cases include some cases that were delayed in getting reported to us due to a reporting error from an external lab," the health department reported, also noting that the cases in Monday's data were up through last Thursday, and do not cover any cases over the long holiday weekend.

The state's rolling average positivity rate is showing signs of an uptick again, at 8.9% after dipping down to 8.2% last week; and the new daily cases per 100,000 residents stand at 63.4.

Since the start of the pandemic, there have now been more than 10,000 ICU hospitalizations for COVID-19, according to the latest figures.

As of Monday, there were only about 32 staffed intensive care unit beds for adults available across the entire state, with 283 ICU beds occupied by COVID-19 patients, along with 1,030 non-ICU beds. Only 13 staffed pediatric ICU beds are available.

A total of 8,711,845 vaccine doses have been administered in the state, including 1.71 million boosters. Of the state's 5 and older population, 72% have received at least one shot.

Gov. Tim Walz said the best ways to help schools stay open are for people to get vaccinated and boosted, get tested and wear masks in public places.

"We're not helpless in this." he said. "We have the tools necessary to slow the spread of this."

Walz is back at work after he, his wife and 15-year-old son tested positive and developed mild-to-moderate symptoms in late December. But because they were in quarantine, he said, their college-age daughter was not able to spend Christmas with them and stayed with relatives instead. He said they've all tested negative since then.

The governor said in an interview with WCCO Radio that Minnesota's efforts to ramp up testing will be complicated by President Joe Biden's announcement just before Christmas that the federal government will provide 500 million free at-home rapid test kits. He said that's a good move, but said it's affecting Minnesota's existing supply chains. He said Minnesota is still in better shape than other states, but acknowledged that testing availability is tight, and he thanked people for being patient.

"Don't give up on this." Walz told WCCO. "Testing is the real key, along with the boosters, to helping stop the spread."

CBS News reports millions of Americans as young as 12 could soon be able to get a booster shot of COVID-19 vaccine, after the Food and Drug Administration announced that it has authorized third doses of Pfizer-BioNTech's shot for that age group.

The FDA also said it would allow for children as young as 5 with compromised immune systems to get an additional shot. And the agency shortened the amount of time between a person's second dose of the Pfizer vaccine and being eligible for a booster to five months instead of six months for all age groups.

(© Copyright 2022 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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