Skip to main content

How the Delta variant is affecting Minnesota's COVID-19 status

The number of cases identified as the Delta variant are rising.

COVID-19 levels in Minnesota remain quite low compared to the nation's hot spots, though state health officials continue to stress the importance of getting vaccinated as the Delta variant and other variants that are more transmissible pose a health threat. 

The Delta variant, which wrought havoc in India and other countries around the world in recent months, has quickly become the most common form of the coronavirus in the United States. According to the CDC, Delta, also known as B.1.617.2, accounted for more than half of all cases nationwide through July 3.

In two-week increments going back to mid-May, Delta has accounted for: 

  • 3.1% of all cases in the U.S. on May 22
  • 10.1% on June 5
  • 43.4% on June 19
  • 57.2% on July 3

Genomic sequencing, which identifies strains of the virus, through July 3 found that the B.1.1.7 variant (the U.K. variant) accounted for 72.6% of the 576 samples sequenced in Minnesota in a two-week period ending July 3. Just 5.4% of those samples were Delta. 

But Delta is rising in Minnesota as the B.1.1.7 strain falls. According to the Minnesota Department of Health, since June 1, 64% of all cases sequenced in Minnesota have been B.1.1.7, while Delta has risen to 14%. Moreover, since June 24 sequencing has found 19 cases of Delta in Minnesota and only 18 cases of B.1.1.7, further signaling Delta's arrival. 

"It’s clear that the Delta variant is more transmissible, but the evidence is still unclear as to whether it causes more severe disease," a spokesperson from the state health department told Bring Me The News.

Of the 129 cases of Delta identified in Minnesota (not all cases are sequenced to identify a specific strain), 21 of resulted in the patient being hospitalized (16%), including two deaths (2%). This could suggest it can cause more serious illness than B.1.1.7, which has seen 7% of all identified cases (more than 17,000) result in hospitalization, in addition to 132 deaths (1%), albeit there remains a much smaller sample size to go on.

Minnesota is once again reporting rising cases of COVID-19, though this hasn't yet been followed by a corresponding rise in hospitalizations, which tend to lag a few weeks.

As MPR News' David Montgomery showed on Wednesday, the number of new cases is rising more quickly among the unvaccinated population than the vaccinated.

"Wherever there are low vaccination rates, people remain more susceptible to the Delta variant as well as all strains of the SARS CoV2 virus," the MDH spokesperson told BMTN. Based on each county's total population receiving at least one dose of a vaccine, these are the 10 counties with the lowest vaccination rates in Minnesota: 

  1. Clearwater County - 34.2%
  2. Todd County - 36.2%
  3. Wadena County - 37.3%
  4. Mille Lacs County - 37.9%
  5. Morrison County - 38%
  6. Pine County - 38.4%
  7. Kanabec County - 38.6%
  8. Isanti County - 39.2%
  9. Benton County - 40%
  10. Meeker County - 40.2%

"We would tell people in those locations that the best thing they can do to protect themselves and their families is to get vaccinated," the spokesperson stated. 

The ten counties with the highest percent of its population to have received at least one dose are: 

  1. Cook County - 73.7%
  2. Olmsted County - 66.3%
  3. Hennepin County - 64.4%
  4. Washington County - 62.8%
  5. Dakota County - 61.9%
  6. Carver County - 60.7%
  7. Ramsey County - 60.1%
  8. Lake County - 59.9%
  9. Scott County - 57.4%
  10. St. Louis County - 57%

For context, if 64.4% of Hennepin County's 1.266 million residents have received at least one shot, that still leaves more than 450,000 people in the county completely unvaccinated, though many of the unvaccinated are children under the age of 12 who are not yet approved for vaccine. 

How does the Delta variant impact kids?

"The average age of hospitalizations and deaths from the Delta variant does not appear at this time to be significantly different (younger) than from other variants," the MDH spokesperson said. "However, to the extent that children under 12 remain unvaccinated, they are vulnerable to infection from COVID variants, so parents should take precautions to protect their children when out in public, in crowded areas, etc."

The health department is in the process of working with the Department of Education to finalize health and safety plans for the upcoming school year.  

"Prioritizing in-person learning while protecting the health and safety of students, staff and families remains our top priority. MDH will be working with MDE to review the CDC guidance for schools and will be making updates to the Minnesota school guidance for the 2021-22 school year," the spokesperson noted. 

"We will share more information on the final guidance when it is ready. We continue to urge all eligible Minnesotans to get vaccinated now so they are ready for the school year and we can help limit spread of COVID-19 in schools and our communities."

Next Up

Screen Shot 2022-05-11 at 9.54.54 AM

Training storms dump big rain totals on southeast Minnesota

The flash flooding threat shifts further north and west Wednesday night.

Park Point beach, Duluth

Travel & Leisure's top 25 US beaches includes one in Minnesota

The beach on the shores of Lake Superior made the cut.

Acme Comedy Company stage.

Are you the funniest person in the Twin Cities?

Acme Comedy Company is wondering. Professional comedians need not apply.

storm, severe weather

Severe storms threaten Minnesota again later Wednesday

Tornadoes, very large hail and straight-line winds are possible.

Screen Shot 2022-05-11 at 7.54.30 AM

Saint Mary's University cutting 11 majors, laying off staff

The Winona college says it's consolidating to focus on business, technology, and the sciences.

Screen Shot 2022-05-11 at 7.32.39 AM

Strong storms impacting southern MN Thursday morning

The SPC says the storm will likely continue producing isolated large hail.

Shillingford

Charges: Fitness worker went to 70-year-old's home, killed him with gunshot to arm

Investigators are still working to determine a motive in the case.

Screen Shot 2022-05-10 at 7.18.57 PM

Over a half-century into career, Minneapolis actor James Hong gets his star

The 93-year-old actor received a star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame Tuesday.

police lights

19-year-old motorist killed in Clay County crash

The crash occurred approximately 15 miles east of Fargo in Riverton Township.

5033-Vincent-Ave-S-Twilight-002

Gallery: Remodeled century-old Minneapolis home on market for $1.06M

The home features Norwegian Oak floors and a spacious open-concept.

skid steer

Electrical worker dies from being run over by skid loader in southern MN

The 23-year-old victim and other workers with the Minnesota Valley Electric Company were working in the electrical power line system prior to the accident.

Related

covid, coronavirus

CDC document: Delta variant as contagious as chickenpox

Vaccines remain very effective at preventing severe illness from the delta variant, however.

covid

Delta variant circulating in Minnesota, health officials urge vaccination

"The unvaccinated are still at risk for the virus – and it has a way of finding the unvaccinated."

coronavirus, ICU, COVID-19

'Vast majority' of COVID-19 cases, deaths in MN are in unvaccinated

The Delta variant is also becoming more dominant in Minnesota.

covid

Here is Minnesota's COVID-19 update for Wednesday, August 4

The delta variant has been leading to higher case counts and hospitalizations in Minnesota.

coronavirus, COVID-19 test

Here is Minnesota's COVID-19 update for Thursday, August 5

The delta variant has been leading to higher case counts and hospitalizations in Minnesota.

covid-19, coronavirus, PPE

Here is Minnesota's COVID-19 update for Tuesday, August 3

The delta variant has been leading to higher case counts and hospitalizations in Minnesota.

covid

Here is Minnesota's COVID-19 update for Thursday, August 19

The latest on the rising cases and hospitalizations in Minnesota.