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Hennepin County set to become third in Minnesota to hit 70% vaccinated target

It's a key threshold in the fight to end the pandemic.

One of the key figures in the fight to end the COVID-19 pandemic is 70%. 

A 70% vaccination rate, health officials have said, is likely the floor for achieving herd immunity and preventing community spread of the deadly virus. That threshold has been repeated by both federal and global leaders. It's also the target set out by Gov. Tim Walz, who promised to fully end the state's mask mandate prior to July 1 if Minnesota's 16-plus population hits that number.

So how close are we?

Statewide, about 60.3% of the population age 16 and above has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, as of May 10.

But a couple of counties have already hit that 70% mark, with a few more not far behind.

Up in Cook County, 3,667 people aged 16 and up have received at least one dose, putting its vaccination rate at 78.6% - the highest mark in the state. 

Olmsted County (home of the Mayo Clinic) has also cleared the 70% bar, with 74.1% of eligible residents having gotten at least one shot.

And Hennepin, the most populous county in the state, appears poised to reach that figure soon. The vaccination rate there as of Monday morning is 69.7%. The five next highest counties are Ramsey (67%), Big Stone, Carlton, Wabasha and Washington (66%) and Carver (65%).

Last week, Walz was asked if he had considered ending COVID-19 restrictions on a county-by-county basis based on vaccination rate. He acknowledged such an idea was suggested, but said he believes a statewide approach, driven by personal accountability, makes the most sense. 

"At this point in time, it's really more apparent than ever ... there's certain mandates I can put on, but there really is a social compact," Walz said Thursday. "We really need people to do this." 

Minnesota reported no new COVID-19 deaths in its daily update Monday, but 481 people remain hospitalized - 133 of them in intensive care.

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