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The number of COVID cases recorded in Minnesota has grown by 34% of late — the highest rate of growth in the entire U.S., driven largely by substantial increases in greater Minnesota counties.

But despite the number of COVID infections here surging upward of late, Minnesota's hospitalization and death rate remains low compared to other states.

The data comes from the New York Times (h/t to @twindependent on Twitter), which shows Minnesota has seen an average of 2,981 new COVID cases every day over the past week. That represents an increase of 34% compared to 14 days ago, the most extreme jump in the entire country.

Related: 405 schools now on COVID outbreak list as virus surges

This during a time COVID cases nationwide actually fell by 19% (though that's coming down from a September spike that was among the worst periods of the entire pandemic).

Michigan, with an average of 4,203 cases every day, is second with an increase of 28%.

Minnesota's case rate is also on the upper end. At 53 cases per 100,000 people, only six states and Guam have higher rates.

But there's a bit more to the story. 

Minnesota is averaging 18 COVID hospitalizations a day over the past week, which is up from two weeks ago — but still tied for the 15th-lowest hospitalization rate among all 50 states. 

And Minnesota has seen a recent COVID death rate of 0.34 per 100,000 people, which is the 18th-lowest figure in the nation. 

Related: The MN counties where fewer than half of eligible residents are vaccinated

The state is also tied for the 15th-highest rate of full vaccination in the country at 59%. While being vaccinated does not outright prevent someone from contracting COVID, it does significantly reduce the chances of experiencing severe symptoms that lead to hospitalization or death.

Officials have described a growing "capacity crisis" in Minnesota hospitals, and the school year has brought about increased  infections among school students and staff,

In Minnesota, of the 43 counties with a COVID case increase above the statewide rate of 34%, two are in the Twin Cities metro: Anoka has seen cases go up 52% over the past two weeks, while Hennepin has seen cases increase by 35%.

But the biggest increases are being seen in greater Minnesota, where vaccination rates are much lower than in the 7-county Twin Cities metro, and which is now seeing the significant majority of new COVID-19 cases in Minnesota.

The chart to the right shows the 10 Minnesota counties with the largest case increases over the past two weeks.

Related: County case rates continue to spike in greater MN, growth slower in Twin Cities

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