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COVID In Minnesota: Nearly 1,200 New Cases, 32 More Deaths Reported

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Minnesota health officials on Sunday reported 1,196 more cases of COVID-19 and 32 more deaths.

The latest update from the Minnesota Department of Health shows the cumulative case count stands at 454,989 while the death toll has reached 6,095. Of the most recent deaths, 22 were residents in long-term care facilities. Residents in long-term care have accounted for more than 60% of the state's coronavirus deaths.

Minnesota is in the process of inoculating people in long-term care facilities and frontline health care workers against the virus. People in these two groups, called Phase 1A, totaling some 500,000 Minnesotans, are on track to at least be offered the vaccine by the end of the month.

Also this week, select educators, child care workers and Minnesotans ages 65 and older began getting their first vaccine shots at nine vaccine sites across the state. Gov. Tim Walz is using these sites as part of a vaccine pilot program, planning to expand it as more vaccine doses are provided by the federal government. According to officials, 11,488 people have been vaccinated at these sites in the last few days.

As of last week, 229,163 Minnesotans had received the first dose of the vaccine series, per the state's vaccine dashboard. Nearly 60,000 Minnesotans -- or 1.1% of the state's population -- have received the full series.

In Minnesota hospitals, more than 500 people are battling the virus as of Thursday, with 104 patients in intensive care. Still, hospitalizations remain on a downward trend compared with two months ago, when hospitalizations and fatalities reached record highs in November, prompting the governor to dial back restrictions on businesses and gatherings.

In the last 24 hours, nearly 35,000 COVID-19 tests were processed in Minnesota. Since the start of the pandemic, more than 3.2 million people in Minnesota have been tested for the pathogen. Of those who tested positive, 437,827 have recovered and no longer need to self-isolate.

On his first full day in office, President Joe Biden warned Americans that the worst is yet to come in the fight against COVID-19. While the president signed several executive orders aimed at speeding up the vaccine rollout, he says that Americans will need to wear masks and practice social distancing for the near future.

The Biden administration is working to pass a nearly $2 trillion COVID-19 relief package. The package would provide funds to stop the spread of the virus and boost vaccine capabilities, support struggling families and give aid to cash-poor small businesses and communities.

Biden is calling on Republicans in Congress to back the package, saying that unifying the country at this time is "not some pie-in-the-sky dream, it's a practical step to getting the things we have to get done as a country, get done together."

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