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Minnesota health officials see increase in rates of people hospitalized with COVID-19

Minnesota providers with stored Johnson & Johnson vaccines can now use them.

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Minnesota and Wisconsin health officials reported Wednesday that 43 more people have tested positive for COVID-19 in the Northland and another person has died from the illness.

The person who died was from St. Louis County and between the ages 90 and 94. The county has now lost 300 lives to COVID-19.

That death was among 22 Minnesota reported Wednesday, marking the most deaths the state has reported in one day since early February, Minnesota health commissioner Jan Malcolm said in a media call.

While hospitalization rates from COVID-19 are stable, Malcolm said the percentage of Minnesotans with COVID-19 who become hospitalized has gone up in all age groups over the age of 20.

Kris Ehresmann, Minnesota's infectious disease director, added that the median age of people hospitalized has dropped a decade between November and March and another year in the last month.


"We're seeing increases in the percent of people and then we're also seeing more severe disease in the population that's being hospitalized," Ehresmann said.

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Kris Ehresmann, infectious disease director at the Minnesota Department of Public Health, discusses the state’s response to the coronavirus at the State Capitol in St. Paul on March 6, 2020. Dave Orrick / St. Paul Pioneer Press

Twenty-nine people in Northeastern Minnesota were in the hospital with COVID-19 as of Tuesday and 14 of those people were receiving intensive care.

Next week, the state of Minnesota will receive its first shipment of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine since the federal government issued and lifted a temporary pause on the vaccine . Any doses that have been stored away since the pause can be used now, Ehresmann said.

"The data showed that the (vaccine's) benefit outweighs the very small risk," said Ehresmann, adding that about seven women for every one million women between the ages of 18 and 49 have developed the rare blood-clotting disorder after receiving the vaccine.


As of Wednesday about 56% of Minnesotans had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, or nearly 2.5 million people.

However, about 3.4% of Minnesotans with their first dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine have missed their second dose. Ehresmann said that means a week has passed since those 52,700 people were supposed to receive their second dose, and it's cause for concern among health officials.

"We are looking at how we can work with people to make sure that if there's a problem accessing a second dose that there are places that they can go and also making sure that we're reminding people of the importance of that second dose," Ehresmann said.

New cases and seven-day averages in Northland counties:

  • Aitkin — 2; 2.1.
  • Carlton — 8; 6.7.
  • Cook — 0; 0.7.
  • Itasca — 9; 26.7.
  • Koochiching — 2; 2.4.
  • Lake — 1; 1.4.
  • St. Louis — 24; 41.3.
  • Ashland — 1; 1.3.
  • Bayfield — 2; 0.6.
  • Douglas — 4; 5.3.

Minnesota's testing positivity rate was 6.5% on Wednesday.

Percentage of people with at least one vaccine dose in each county:

  • Aitkin — 45%.
  • Carlton — 51%.
  • Cook — 68%.
  • Itasca — 41%.
  • Koochiching — 42%.
  • Lake — 51%.
  • St. Louis — 50%.
  • Ashland — 48%.
  • Bayfield — 55%.
  • Douglas — 45%.
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