Minnesota falls short of Walz's July 1 COVID vaccination goal

Minnesota has fallen as many as 133,000 people short of Gov. Tim Walz's initial goal of getting 70% of Minnesotans ages 16 and older vaccinated by July 1.

Thursday, the state reported 2,954,169 people ages 16 and older have gotten at least one vaccine dose. The data is as of Tuesday, though it likely hasn't changed much because Minnesota is averaging only a few thousand new doses administered each day. Walz had initially put the benchmark at 3,087,404 people.

Instead, Walz highlighted a different metric Thursday: the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that 70% of Minnesotans ages 18 and older had received at least one dose. Minnesota was the 17th state in the country to hit that mark, according to the CDC's online data tracker.

"This is a remarkable achievement, and a credit to every Minnesotan who has rolled up their sleeves to get their vaccine and protect themselves and their communities," the governor said in an emailed statement.

A total of 3,061,507 vaccine doses have been administered in Minnesota, a larger number that includes vaccinations in people as young as 12 years old. That number includes a backlog of about 6,000 doses a pharmacy partner reported to MDH on Tuesday, according to a news release.

Walz once used the 70% metric for ages 16 and older as an incentive to remove the statewide mask mandate. But in mid-May, the CDC relaxed its mask guidance for fully vaccinated people and Walz ended Minnesota's mandate.

Meanwhile, MDH also reported 102 new COVID-19 cases and five new deaths on Thursday. Minnesota has seen a total of 605,408 COVID-19 cases and 7,599 deaths attributed to the disease to date.

The state’s seven-day rolling average test positivity rate has fallen to 1.2%, well below the 5% caution threshold that indicates a high rate of community transmission of the virus.

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Three of the deaths reported on Thursday which were in long-term care facilities. Four of the five deaths were in the Twin Cities metro. The ages of the people who died ranged from early 50s to late 90s.

Thursday marked the first day MDH is reporting the actual date of death of COVID-19 patients instead of the date the death was reported by MDH.

"By reporting actual death date, the timelines on our website will provide a better representation of what is happening with mortality related to COVID-19 over time," health officials said in a news release.

MDH is making several other changes to the way it reports COVID-19 data going forward. Starting the weekend of July 10-11, MDH said it will now longer report coronavirus data on the weekends. Data posted on Mondays will be as of 4 a.m. on Fridays and data posted on Tuesdays will be for the remainder of Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and as of 4 a.m. on Monday.

Additionally, MDH said it will no longer be posting the 14-day case rate by county data for schools.