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Serving Northern St. Louis County, Minnesota

State COVID picture muddied depending on data source

David Colburn
Posted 5/26/21

REGIONAL- While the news appears mostly positive when looking at the trends for COVID-19 issues in the most recent county and state data, save for a continuing sluggishness in increasing …

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State COVID picture muddied depending on data source

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REGIONAL- While the news appears mostly positive when looking at the trends for COVID-19 issues in the most recent county and state data, save for a continuing sluggishness in increasing vaccinations, a national assessment indicates that some aspects for Minnesota are not as rosy compared to other states.
The most encouraging sign that COVID-19 is on the wane is found in the seven-day test positivity rate. The statewide rate reported on Tuesday, 4.2, is below the five-percent threshold that state officials say is a concerning sign of disease spread, where it was just last week. While individual areas may vary and the coronavirus and its variants are still active, the downward trend is a clear signal that a slight two-month surge in March and April has subsided. Officials have said the increases in the number of fully vaccinated individuals accounts for a significant portion of that reduction.
St. Louis County’s rate remained steady at 2.8, still significantly lower than statewide.
Federal report
Only Maine, West Virginia, Wyoming, Colorado and Delaware have worse case rates per 100,000 residents than Minnesota, according to the weekly federal COVID-19 State Profile Report released on Tuesday.
Computing case rates per 100,000 people allows an apples-to-apples comparison of the prevalence of new cases across states. California leads the nation in this measure with a rate of 3,799 new cases per 100,000. At 5,607, Minnesota’s rate is 48 percent higher.
And while northern St. Louis County continues to enjoy the lowest seven-day average of daily cases the area has seen since February, the news in the federal report wasn’t as good for the county as a whole. St. Louis County is in the report’s top 12 counties in the state for newly reported daily cases.
The six North Country zip code areas monitored by the Timberjay helped to fuel that standing, as six new cases reported last week in the Cook, Orr, and Tower zips put the area slightly above the 5.3 rate for the northern portion of the county.
Vaccine progress
Vaccine doses administered last week totaled 226,718, the lowest weekly total since mid-February, and would have been much lower if not for the addition of about 60,000 doses administered to newly eligible 12 to 15-year-olds.
While state health officials sent out notifications that information for 12-to-15 vaccinations would be included on the Vaccine Data dashboard starting Tuesday morning, some features of the new data set were still unavailable on Wednesday. The Timberjay obtained the information from an alternative official source.
Overall, 2.5 million Minnesotans are now fully vaccinated, with another 350,000 having received their first dose of the vaccine. Sixty-four percent of those age 16 and over have now received at least one vaccine dose, edging upward toward the state’s goal of 70 percent.
Also on Tuesday, the state reported that 2,550 people who have been fully vaccinated, one-tenth of a percent of the overall total, have subsequently contracted COVID-19 in what officials term as breakthrough infections. Twenty-six of those patients, average age 74, died after hospitalization.
State infectious disease director Kris Ehresmann said that the tiny percentage of breakthrough infections shows that vaccines work.
“The data … strengthen the argument that vaccine is a significantly valuable tool in this fight against COVID,” she said.
A report from the Centers for Disease Control on breakthrough infections reinforced Ehresmann’s statement.
“The number of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths that will be prevented among vaccinated persons will far exceed the number of vaccine breakthrough cases,” the CDC report stated.ss

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