Several Minnesota counties with higher COVID case growth have low vaccination rates

Minnesota's growing spread of COVID-19 infections over the past month wasn't evenly distributed across the state, and the push to get vaccines into arms appears to have made an impact.

Several counties that saw the highest case growth in early April also had some of the lowest vaccination rates, a FOX 9 analysis of Minnesota health data indicates.

Among the 18 counties with the most cases per capita over the week of April 4-10, six -- Anoka, Benton, Isanti, Jackson, Morrison and Wright -- were among the bottom 20 percent for vaccination uptake. Two of the counties, Carver and St. Louis, were above the statewide average vaccination rate.

The findings come as Minnesota health officials are vexed by an earlier-than-expected demand slowdown in some parts of the state, something they fear could prolong the pandemic. They and Gov. Tim Walz have scheduled events for next week aimed at hesitant populations.

In some parts of the state, health providers have stopped making regular, weekly orders of the vaccine because they've run out of willing takers.

"It’s certainly not everywhere, but we are hearing more of those same reports," Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm told reporters this week. "There’s no question that we’re going to keep up all of our efforts to encourage people to get vaccinated and to do so as soon as they can."

Statewide, nearly 2.4 million people have gotten at least one vaccine dose, or 54 percent of Minnesota adults. But counties' uptake ranges widely, from 32 percent in Benton County to 76 percent in Cook County.

Trump votes versus vaccination rates in Minnesota.

Politics a factor

Political ideology had a stronger relationship with vaccination rates than did wealth, age or county population, a FOX 9 analysis found.

As the share of a county's vote increased for President Donald Trump in 2020, that county's vaccination rate decreased, according to the analysis of state data.

In Cook County, where Minnesota's vaccine uptake has been highest, Trump received just 31.6 percent of the vote. In Morrison County, where Trump received his biggest share of any Minnesota county at 75.8 percent, 41 percent of adults have gotten a vaccine.

A county's median age, median household income and population had no statistically significant effect on vaccination rate.