Seventy percent of Minnesota's adults age 18 and up have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, a milestone Gov. Tim Walz described Thursday as a "remarkable achievement."
By passing that threshold, Minnesota becomes one of 17 states (plus Puerto Rico and DC) to hit President Joe Biden's stated goal of hitting the 70% mark by July 4. The only state in the Midwest with a higher rate is Illinois, at 71.8%.
The governor, in a statement announcing the new figure, gave credit "to every Minnesotan who has rolled up their sleeves to get their vaccine and protect themselves and their communities,”
Walz also credited the vaccine's effectiveness with the significant drop in COVID-19 cases of late.
Indeed, hospitalizations have fallen below 100, a sharp decline from the 699 hospitalizations seen just 10 weeks ago. And according to Johns Hopkins University, Minnesota's test positivity rate over the past seven days is 0.98%.
Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan described it as "a true team effort," crediting doctors, nurses, clinics, public health agencies, community partners, those who drove family or friends to get a vaccine, and more.
"We are better off because of all of you," she added.
But Walz, when discussing his goals previously, always framed 70% as the bare minimum he would like to reach. In addition, if 16-year-olds are included in the count, then the state, as of June 29, is actually at 67% — still below the 70% vaccination rate mark.
While 10 counties, six of which are in the Twin Cities metro, have reached a 70% vaccination rate among those 16 and up, some remain well behind. Last week, there were 13 counties in which fewer than half of those 16 and up had received at least one dose (though those counties are on the small side in terms of population).
Walz and state health leaders have continued to implore the unvaccinated to get a vaccine. The state noted more than 80 community vaccination events are coming up in the next two weeks, and community vaccination sites accept walk-ins.
“This is a day to celebrate our COVID-19 response efforts, but the hard work continues,” said Walz. “We are still focused on getting as many shots in arms as possible and meeting Minnesotans where they are. We need even more people to be vaccinated if we are going to build the broad protection necessary to keep ourselves, our loved ones, and our communities safe from COVID-19 for the long-term."