At current pace, Minnesota will hit 70% COVID-19 vaccination rate by June 6

The latest data from the Minnesota Department of Health shows at the current pace, 70% of eligible Minnesotans will be vaccinated by June 6, which is the threshold Gov. Tim Walz says the state needs to reach for him to remove the statewide indoor mask mandate

At one point, the vaccination pace would have allowed Minnesota to hit the 70% mark in mid-May. The pace has slowed considerably in recent weeks. 

As of Thursday, about 59% of Minnesotans age 16 and older have at least a first dose of the vaccine and around 46% are fully vaccinated. 

1,661 new COVID-19 cases, 13 more deaths

Meanwhile, MDH reported 1,661 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday and 13 more deaths attributed to the disease. Minnesota has now seen 584,227 COVID-19 cases and 7,204 deaths since the pandemic began. 

The 1,661 newly reported cases were out of 38,262 tests, a 4.3% positivity rate. Minnesota’s seven-day average rolling positivity rate has remained at 5.9% for the past few days, down from its spring peak at 7.4% in early April, although it is a lagging indicator. Anything over 5% is a concern for MDH because it indicates a high rate of community transmission. 

Five of the 13 people whose deaths were reported on Thursday were under the age of 65. Two of the deaths were in long-term care facilities and six were in the seven-county metro area.   

Of the 50 COVID-19 deaths reported in Minnesota over the last five days, only six were in long-term care facilities. As of Thursday, over 87.5% of people over the age of 65 in Minnesota now have at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. 

Hospitalizations are continuing to decrease week over week, with 565 people currently hospitalized in Minnesota with COVID-19, compared to 644 at this time last week. Of the 565 COVID-19 patients currently hospitalized, 156 are in the ICU. 

Walz: All COVID-19 restrictions to end by July 1

Walz released a timeline Thursday for reopening Minnesota, pledging to end all the state’s COVID-19 restrictions by July 1

The governor laid out a three-step process for removing the restrictions, some of which hinges on how soon Minnesotans get vaccinated.   

  • Step 1: On May 7, limits for outdoor dining, events and get-togethers will be removed. Masks will still be required at large outdoor venues with more than 500 people. Eliminates the state's 11 p.m. curfew for bars and restaurants.
  • Step 2: On May 28, all remaining capacity and social distancing limits will end, including for indoor events. Masks will still be required indoors and for outdoor events that exceed 500 people.
  • Step 3: The statewide mask mandate will end by July 1. The mandate will come off once 70% of Minnesotans ages 16 and older get at least one dose of vaccine