MINNEAPOLIS — COVID-19 hospitalizations reached 757 in Minnesota on Friday, underscoring the continued threat of the fast-spreading delta variant of the coronavirus.
The hospitalizations are a new high for 2021, according to the latest state pandemic figures released Monday, and reflect the usual rise in admissions toward the end of the week that is often followed by a decline as patients are discharged on the weekend. The total includes 230 patients placed in intensive care, the highest total since Dec. 24.
The Minnesota Department of Health on Monday reported 2,474 more coronavirus infections and 10 COVID-19 deaths, raising the state's pandemic totals to 684,070 infections and 7,993 deaths. Minnesota likely will surpass 8,000 confirmed COVID-19 deaths later this week, though technically it has already reached that grim milestone if including 93 fatalities that are listed on death certificates but not verified by laboratory testing.
The state has reopened free COVID-19 testing centers in several locations to make it easier for people to find out if they are infected, allowing people to seek faster access to treatment and take steps to protect others from viral spread.
"If you've been out and about you really should be testing fairly regularly," State Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said, noting a particular need following participation in large or crowded group events.
People 65 and older make up 87% of Minnesota's COVID-19 deaths, but Monday's report included the loss of a Rice County resident age 30 to 34.
More than 3.5 million Minnesotans have received at least first doses of COVID-19 vaccine — or 74.2% of the eligible 12 and older population, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Health officials encourage more Minnesotans to seek out the shots — with the latest research showing some slippage in the effectiveness of vaccines in preventing any infections, but strong protection against severe illness, hospitalizations and deaths.
HCMC, HealthPartners, St. Luke's and Mayo Clinic have all participated in large, nationally publicized studies recently showing the trends in vaccine effectiveness amid the emergence of the delta variant.
The state on Monday reported a total of 23,330 breakthrough infections, which make up 0.75% of the state's fully vaccinated population. The state syncs its vaccination and infection databases to find the breakthrough infections, which include 1,268 people who were hospitalized while infected and 118 people who died of COVID-19. The death numbers make up 0.004% of the fully vaccinated population.
The state has identified 4,540 more breakthrough infections in the past week, crudely making up 30% of the total infections identified in that time frame. The breakthrough and total infections aren't reported in the same way, though, making the comparison only a rough estimate.
Allina Health in Minneapolis reported that 25% of its 150 patients who were receiving inpatient care for COVID-19 last Monday were fully vaccinated. HealthPartners in Bloomington similarly reported on Friday that 15.7% of patients admitted in the prior 30 days had been fully vaccinated, but that immunized patients suffered milder illnesses and were less likely to need intensive care or ventilators for treatment.
A CDC study showed 14% of COVID-19 hospitalizations from June 20 to July 17 involved fully vaccinated patients in Minnesota and 12 other regions. The study concluded that fully vaccinated people had more than 10 times less risk of COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths compared with unvaccinated people.
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