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Is Minnesota's latest surge plateauing? Expert says 'no idea'

Hospital admissions have leveled off in the past week, though ICU cases have risen.
covid, vaccine

Has the latest surge of COVID-19 in Minnesota plateaued or are we just in the eye of the storm? There is no clear answer, but there are encouraging signals in the daily data released by the Minnesota Department of Health. 

Through Monday, the average positivity rate has declined four of the past five days and the 7-day average for new cases has dropped week-over-week for the first time since early March. 

Hospital admissions have also slowed after more than tripling between Mar. 7 and Apr. 14. After reaching 699 admissions on April 14, the numbers have leveled off. As of April 19, there were 686 admissions, though the number of ICU patients is climbing while non-ICU cases are slightly declining. 

  • Mar. 7: 223 (177 non-ICU, 46 ICU)
  • Mar. 13: 255 (194 non-ICU, 61 ICU)
  • Mar. 20: 324 (246 non-ICU, 78 ICU)
  • Mar. 27: 356 (264 non-ICU, 92 ICU)
  • Apr. 2: 439 (337 non-ICU, 112 ICU)
  • Apr. 8: 595 (461 non-ICU, 134 ICU)
  • Apr. 14: 699 (531 non-ICU, 168 ICU)
  • Apr. 19: 686 (493 non-ICU, 193 ICU)

As encouraging as the numbers are, the sample size is still too small to say for sure what is happening, as the race continues to get Minnesotans vaccinated amid an outbreak of the more contagious B.1.1.7 U.K. variant of SARS-CoV-2.

“We really don’t have any idea where we are at right now," said Dr. Michael Osterholm, the infectious diseases expert at the University of Minnesota, in a brief phone call with Bring Me The News on Monday. 

Osterholm said Minnesota could go up or down in the coming weeks.

However, the small victories of daily declines suggest there could be light at the end of the tunnel. The more Minnesotans who build up natural immunity and those who receive the vaccine, the closer the state gets to herd immunity. 

Through April 17, the state reported that 2,304,975 people have received at least 1 dose of the vaccine while 1,630,999 people have completed the vaccine series.

Fifty-two percent of Minnesotans aged 16-plus have received at least one shot, while 85% of the age-65-plus population has had at least one dose. Overall, 41% of the state's population has had at least one shot.

Gov. Tim Walz has set a target of getting 80% of Minnesotan adults vaccinated, though there have been signs in recent weeks that demand for vaccinations is declining, with more providers noting a surplus of spare shots, and opening up availability to non-patients.

You can find out guide on how to get a COVID vaccine appointment here.

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