Minnesota for the first time since April 13 reported zero deaths in its daily situation update for COVID-19.
The number comes with caveats, including that daily COVID-19 reports have always been lower on Mondays, and reflect when investigations are complete rather than when deaths actually occur. The number nonetheless is a sign of hope after a full year of the pandemic in Minnesota.
Overall, the state has reported 6,782 deaths due to COVID-19, an infectious disease caused by a novel coronavirus. The state on the other hand on Monday reported 1,152 newly diagnosed infections — a high total for a Monday — bringing Minnesota’s total case count to 506,376.
Health officials remain concerned that new, more infectious variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus could disrupt pandemic progress in Minnesota. The positivity rate of diagnostic testing increased again to 4.5%, inching closer to Minnesota’s warning threshold of 5% for significant viral spread.
The number of Minnesota hospital beds with COVID-19 patients also reached 318 on Sunday, up from a low of 210 on March 6 but well below the peak of 1,864 on Nov. 29.
Health officials have said Minnesota is in a race between these viral variants and vaccination progress. The state on Monday reported that 1,430,349 people have received COVID-19 vaccine, and that 850,829 people have completed the series either by receiving two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna versions or a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson version.
Gov. Tim Walz’s target is for 80% of eligible Minnesotans 16 and older to be vaccinated in order to achieve a level of statewide immunity that halts viral spread. Based on federal population figures, 40% of eligible Minnesotans have received vaccine and 23.8% have completed vaccination.
Vaccine is prioritized for senior citizens, health care workers, educators, long-term care residents and non-elderly adults with certain underlying health conditions or high-risk occupations. The state estimates that 79% of seniors have received vaccine, a key indicator because people 65 and older have suffered 89% of Minnesota’s COVID-19 deaths.
Whether due to vaccination, COVID-19 fatigue or spring restlessness, Minnesotans’ habits amid the pandemic are changing. Mobility levels had been 30% below normal in mid-February, but rebounded to 12% below normal in Minnesota, according to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation in Washington state, while the share of people who always wear masks in public declined from 79% to 75% in the same time frame.
Minnesota also technically recorded zero deaths on four major holidays over the past year, but only because the state didn’t issue situation reports on those dates.
Jeremy Olson • 612-673-7744