MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) - As the Thanksgiving holiday fast approaches, health officials in Minnesota report 11,455 new cases of COVID-19 and 37 deaths.
In all, the state has seen 887,368 COVID-19 cases since March of 2020 and 9,229 total deaths. The positivity rate is at 11% as of last week (due to data lag), which is above the "high risk" threshold and a figure not seen since December of 2020.
The state is seeing 74 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents; it is also well above the "high risk" line, which is drawn at 10 cases.
Health officials, including the nation's top expert Dr. Anthony Fauci, are encouraging people to get vaccinated before they gather with friends and family on Thanksgiving. Minnesota is not alone in experiencing a sharp rise in virus cases over the past few weeks, as the Delta variant spreads and vaccine efficacy wanes.
More than 60% of Minnesota's total population has completed an initial vaccine series. According to data from the Minnesota Department of Health, 19% of 5- to 11-year-olds have had their initial dose of the Pfizer vaccine, and 96% of seniors have had their first dose.
Last week, the FDA and CDC authorized booster shots for all adults - Americans are eligible six months post-second dose for Pfizer and Moderna recipients, or two months after receiving a Johnson & Johnson dose. Minnesota has administered more than 880,000 booster doses.
Still, hospitals are filled with mostly unvaccinated patients, and health care workers report feeling beaten back and exhausted as they struggle with staffing shortages and crowded emergency rooms. Dozens of Minnesota hospitals do not have any beds available to care for sick patients.
As of Monday afternoon, 320 patients were in ICU hospital beds, and 1,109 were in non-ICU hospital beds. Northeastern Minnesota does not have any staffed ICU beds available in the region, and the metro area has less than 1.1% available. Pediatric ICU beds are also in short supply, with none available in central or southeastern Minnesota.
However, help is on the way. Four hundred Minnesota National Guard members will assist at long-term care facilities, and Gov. Tim Walz says he wants to use $50 million in federal funds to help nursing homes with recruitment and retention.
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