Minnesota reports 2,104 new COVID-19 cases, 8 more deaths Saturday

The Minnesota Department of Health reported 2,104 new cases of COVID-19 and eight more deaths Saturday. 

Minnesota has now seen a total of 566,687 COVID-19 cases and 7,072 deaths since the pandemic began.

The 2,104 new cases reported on Saturday were out of 44,564 tests—a 4.7% positivity rate. The seven-day rolling average positivity rate peaked at 7.4% at the beginning of the month, but is now down to 7.3%, although it is a lagging indicator. Anything over 5% indicates a high rate of community transmission. 

Of the newly reported deaths, four were residents in long-term care facilities.

One of the biggest problems in Minnesota is variants. MDH estimates over 60% of Minnesota’s COVID-19 cases right now are the B.1.1.7 variant, which is more contagious and results more frequently in hospitalizations. 

There are currently 689 COVID-19 patients in hospitals across Minnesota, 202 of whom are in the ICU. MDH Commissioner Jan Malcolm said the average age of hospitalized COVID-19 patients in Minnesota is now younger than during the fall surge - now 59 years old compared to 69 in November and December. 

Spread of COVID-19 among young people 'particularly worrisome'

While the rate of growth in Minnesota’s COVID-19 cases may be starting to stabilize overall, Malcolm said the spread of the virus among younger people has become "particularly worrisome" over the last month. 

School-related cases of COVID-19 among students currently exceeds the high level set in November during the fall surge. Malcolm said the transmission rate needs to come down if there is a hope of having proms and graduations in person this spring. 

As of Thursday, the state is no longer requiring athletes to wear masks while playing outdoor sports, although they will still be required on the sidelines and during indoor sports. However, MDH is recommending athletes, coaches and officials be tested for COVID-19 weekly. 

Students who do not participate in sports or group activities are encouraged to get tested every two weeks. 

Over 2.4 million Minnesotans have at least 1 vaccine dose

Meanwhile, over 2.4 million Minnesotans now have at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and over 1.7 million are fully vaccinated.

Health officials are continuing to encourage people to get vaccinated. Infectious Disease Director Kris Ehresmann said if you were waiting to get the vaccine so more vulnerable people could get it first, "it’s now OK to take your place in line."