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COVID In Minnesota: Twin Cities Metro Area ICU Beds Nearly Full Amid Delta Variant Surge

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO/AP) -- Workers at some Twin Cities area hospitals say they're starting to see available ICU beds coming very close to filling completely up as the COVID-19 Delta variant continues to surge in the state.

According to the latest figures from the Minnesota Department of Health, 97.5% of ICU beds in the metro area are currently in use. The situation is almost as bad in southeastern Minnesota, where only eight beds are still open (or 3.6%).

The Twin Cities metro area shows 17 ICU beds still available, along with 45 non-ICU beds, which accounts for 1.2% of the area's capacity.

Overall, the latest figures of those hospitalized show 160 Minnesotans in ICU with COVID, compared to fewer than 20 about six weeks ago. There are an additional 416 reported hospitalizations for COVID in the state. The figures show an average of 8.8 new daily hospitalizations per 100,000 residents, which is above the line for high risk.

On Wednesday morning, the MDH reported seven more deaths due to COVID-19, and another 1,404 positive cases. So far, 640,459 have tested positive for COVID in Minnesota since the start of the pandemic, and there have been 7,782 deaths.

The health department reports that the rolling average positivity rate is now at 6%. That's above the line for caution (which is 5%), though positivity rate's growth shows signs of growing slower after some weeks of significant jumps day-over-day.

There are also a reported 23.2 daily new cases per 100,000 Minnesota residents, which puts the state well above the line considered high risk. The state spent the early part of summer well below the line of caution, which is drawn at five new cases daily per 100,000 residents.

As of Wednesday morning, the latest figures from the Minnesota Department of Health showed that about 71.2% of Minnesotans 16 or older had received at least one dose, and 92.6% of those 65 or older had received at least one dose. In total, the state has administered 6,112,088 doses of vaccine, with more than 3.07 million residents having completed their vaccine series.


Meanwhile, Gov. Tim Walz has announced the State Fair edition of the state's $100 reward program Wednesday. The first 3,600 Minnesotans to get their first dose at the fair can claim their gift cards immediately afterward.

"If you've waited to get your shot, there's never been a better opportunity," Walz said in a statement.

The State Fair deal follows a just-concluded $100 incentive program that saw nearly 80,000 Minnesotans claim gift cards.

Health officials on Tuesday said they're nervous about the large crowds expected at fair as the highly contagious delta variant circulates statewide. Minnesota's is one of several Midwest state fairs that have offered free vaccinations. Minnesota fair officials are strongly encouraging face masks and vaccinations, but have declined to require them.

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