ST. PAUL — Minnesota health officials on Thursday, Jan. 7 reported 2,004 new cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
Forty-four additional deaths caused by COVID-19 were reported Thursday as well, bringing the state's coronavirus pandemic death toll to 5,572. Of the newly reported deaths, more than half occurred outside of the metro area. Twenty-three occurred in long-term care facilities.
The number of active COVID-19 hospitalizations is on the decline, however, in what Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm on a press call Thursday said is "a pretty encouraging trend." Malcolm said 87 people are being admitted to Minnesota hospitals each day because of the disease, based off the most recent seven-day rolling average, an admission rate one-third of what was seen in late November.
Prior to the holidays, Malcolm said, around 1,000 active hospitalizations were being reported in Minnesota each day. As of Wednesday, she said a total of 787 people are in the hospital, 135 of whom are in intensive care units.
The seven-day moving average of new cases is still lower than it was in November, when infections surged throughout the state, but stands now at 2,300 new cases per day, up from approximately 1,800 per day reported the week of Dec. 27.
Minnesota's rate of COVID-19 tests that return positive, or disease-affirming, results also crept to 6.6% as of Dec. 29, Malcolm said. It had been slightly lower the week before but not nearly so high as it was in November.
Slightly lower rates of testing attributed to the winter holidays, Malcolm said earlier this week, make it difficult to determine the significance of the shift in positivity rates.
Still, Malcolm urged Minnesotans to take caution as restaurants and bars reopen for indoor dining. Such establishments will be able to do so on Monday, Jan. 11 for the first time since November, when Gov. Tim Walz issued an executive order closing their dining rooms in a bid to curb the spread of COVID-19.
Walz this week announced a new order that would lift the ban, which affected other types of public facing businesses as well.
"We must continue to take precautions to combat the spread of the virus all around our state," Malcom said. "We know that masking, social distancing, staying outside for gatherings as much as possible are just critical, as well as getting tested if we feel ill."
Joining Malcolm on the call Thursday was State Department of Employment and Economic Development Steve Grove, who echoed her sentiment.
"We're optimistic but we do have caution because we've seen how things can change pretty quickly when compliance doesn't happen," Grove said.
Also Thursday, the health department reported that 91,174 doses of the vaccine for COVID-19 have been administered in Minnesota. The 396,350 vaccine doses allocated to Minnesota so far are primarily being reserved for health care workers and nursing home residents, with plans in the works to identify other high priority groups.
By the end of the month, health officials have said, Minnesota will have received enough doses of the vaccine to inoculate all members of the population segment currently being prioritized for inoculation.
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- Minnesota Department of Health COVID-19 hotline: 651-201-3920.
- COVID-19 discrimination hotline: 833-454-0148
- Minnesota Department of Health COVID-19 website: Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) website.