Skip to main content

Outbreaks of COVID variant now in four Minnesota counties

Temporary testing centers have been launched in the areas.

Minnesota is now seeing outbreaks of the U.K. variant of COVID-19 in four counties, health officials announced on Friday.

Minnesota Department of Health Director of Infectious Diseases Kris Ehresmann says multiple cases of the B.1.1.7. variant have now been found in Scott County, Blue Earth County, and an area of St. Louis County near Aurora in the Iron Range.

That's in addition to Carver County, which has already seen dozens of variant cases in recent weeks, the spread of which contact tracing has linked back to youth sports and recreation.

MDH has said a 2-day COVID testing event will be held at the Aurora Community Center Monday and Tuesday, while it has selected Mankato – in Blue Earth County – as the location for its 7th permanent community vaccination site.

Scientists say the U.K. variant of SARS-CoV-2 may be up to 70% more contagious than the most common strain of the virus, and a study has suggested that it's potentially more deadly too.

The Star Tribune on Sunday revealed how MDH mapped the outbreak in Carver County, showing how the variant was transmitted quickly through sports teams and schools, revealing that an outbreak of at least 12 infections at an elementary school was tied to one individual to a sports team with five infections.

Its rise in Minnesota has coincided with the state's COVID-19 cases ticking up again in recent weeks, having previously dropped steadily since the peak in late November.

Sign up: Subscribe to our BREAKING NEWS newsletters

Hospitalizations have also been rising, with 316 people hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Mar. 18, a rise of more than 100 on the recent low of 210 on Mar. 6.

It has sparked concern among health officials who fear another significant rise in cases before the bulk of Minnesota's population has been vaccinated.

Ehresmann described the state as being in a "race between the variants and the vaccine." Cases of the South African and Brazilian variants have also been confirmed in Minnesota.

All three of the vaccines currently available in the U.S. right now, Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson, are believed to retain their effectiveness against the U.K. variant, though the early results are mixed for the South African and Brazilian variants.

Next Up

Flickr - police lights squad siren - Edward Kimmel

Woman in critical condition after being shot in the head in St. Paul

Officers responded to the incident at around 2:45 a.m. Saturday.

Alexander Mattison

Vikings-Lions: 5 things you can count on

It's a great time for the Vikings to play the Lions.


Omicron variant confirmed in Wisconsin man who traveled to South Africa

Five other cases have been confirmed and linked to a Wisconsin wedding.

Sharon Mollerus - duluth - snow plow car

Sunday snowstorm walloping MN's North Shore with huge totals

Just ridiculous snow totals expected the rest of Sunday.

Screen Shot 2021-12-05 at 6.49.03 AM

Saturday snow causes havoc on Twin Cities roads

There were countless spinouts and crashes across Minnesota.

Kirill Kaprizov

Wild win battle of NHL's hottest teams, extend winning streak to six

Kirill Kaprizov delivered a shootout winner to take down the Maple Leafs.

Eric Kendricks

Vikings downgrade Eric Kendricks to out against Lions

The Vikings have also activated Michael Pierce from injured reserve.

u.s. attorney

Minnesotan sentenced after assaulting man with baseball bat

Marshall Wayne Boshey was sentenced to 30 months in prison followed by two years of supervised release.

Target store

Target's gift card discount is back, but for this weekend only

The fine print: for Target Circle members only (but membership is free).


covid saliva test

MDH to open new COVID testing site in Carver Co. amid B117 variant outbreak

It comes amid an outbreak among younger people in the southwest metro county.

covid-19, coronavirus

MDH says Carver County COVID outbreak threatens state's progress

State health officials are concerned about the cluster in the southwest metro.


Some Carver Co. schools, businesses reduce activities amid outbreak of COVID variant

The Minnesota Department of Health announced a 'rapidly growing' outbreak on Friday.

N95 mask

'Rapidly growing' outbreak of U.K. COVID variant found in Carver County

The department says it's been linked back to youth sports, with cases also found at local gyms.


Cases of COVID-19 linked to Provincetown outbreak found in Minnesota

There have been more than 550 cases linked to the Massachusetts tourist destination since the 4th of July weekend.

coronavirus, nurse

Coronavirus: 9 more dead as positive tests, ICU patients increase

Stearns County jumped to 728 total cases, the third most in the state.

covid, coronavirus

Here is Minnesota's COVID update for January 7

The new variants have not been confirmed in Minnesota, though officials suspect it is already here.

covid, coronavirus

CDC document: Delta variant as contagious as chickenpox

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