On Tuesdays, MinnPost provides weekly updates that cover COVID-19 developments in Minnesota from the previous Wednesday to present.
This week in COVID-19 news
On the Minnesota COVID-19 front, the news continues to be good: Cases are down (both in case count numbers and sewage data). Hospitalizations are down. Deaths are down.
Experts say things won’t likely to stay like this forever: we should not assume the big wave we just experienced is the last, and we should expect waves in the future. But when does the next shoe drop, and how hard does it hit?
Cases of “stealth” omicron are on the rise globally. The BA.2 variant is seemingly even more transmissible than BA.1, the strain of omicron that caused the surge of cases in Minnesota in December and January.
While BA.2 may prompt new surges in cases around the world, experts disagree on whether the US is due for another big surge, with a large percentage of the population immune through either recent infection in the omicron surge or vaccination. The BA.2 strain doesn’t show indications of causing more severe disease than BA.1. The New York Times has an informative BA.2 explainer here.
Kids ages 5 to 11 who have received both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine by April 11 will be entered to win one of five $100,000 scholarships to Minnesota colleges. A drawing will be held on April 15. More info, including how to register, here.
The Biden Administration has extended the requirement that public transit and air travelers wear maks through April 18. The mandate was previously set to expire on March 18. Also in transpo news, a government report released Monday says the Transportation Security Administration has cited passengers with violating face mask mandates to the tune of $640,000 in proposed fines in the last six months.
Data from the Minnesota Department of Health show the state added 2,834 new COVID-19 cases between March 9 and March 15, averaging 405 new cases per day. Last week, the average was 642 cases per day.
The most recent seven-day case positivity average — or the average share of positive cases out of total COVID-19 tests — is 3.2 percent, down from 4 percent the week prior. You can find the seven-day case positivity average here.
Deaths and hospitalizations
Minnesota has reported 68 COVID-19 deaths since last Wednesday. Last week, the state reported 90 deaths. (Deaths did not necessarily occur in the week in which they were reported because deaths are not always reported and confirmed immediately.)
COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to drop in Minnesota. As of Tuesday, 42 people are in intensive care with COVID-19, while 264 are hospitalized and not in intensive care. Last Tuesday, 44 were in intensive care and 322 were hospitalized and not in intensive care. More information on Minnesota’s current hospitalizations here.
The most recent data show 66 percent of Minnesotans had completed a COVID-19 primary vaccine series, while 45.8 percent were up-to-date on their shots (meaning they have completed the primary series and received a booster if recommended). A week ago, 65.9 percent of Minnesotans had completed the vaccine series, and 45.7 percent were up to date. More data on the state’s vaccination efforts can be found here.