Jul 15, 2021 - COVID

What Minnesota's rising COVID-19 case counts mean

Illustration of an animated hovering coronavirus cell surrounded by empty vaccine syringes.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Minnesota's mass vaccination effort is keeping COVID-19 at bay, but cases are creeping up among those without a shot.

Driving the news: The state is now reporting more than 200 new positive tests a day, double the numbers seen in recent weeks, as MPR News' David Montgomery reports.

  • It's not just Minnesota. Cases nationwide have doubled over the last three weeks, the Associated Press reports, though levels remain far below earlier peaks.

Why it matters: While more than 3 million Minnesotans have gotten at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, about a third of eligible residents remain unvaccinated — and therefore unprotected — as the new, more contagious Delta variant spreads.

Yes, but: The good news is that we've continued to avoid bigger outbreaks seen in states with lower vaccination levels. And our overall case count and test positivity rate remain much lower than before.

  • "We are in much better shape, and we attribute that to vaccinations very straightforwardly," Minnesota Department of Health commissioner Jan Malcolm told MPR this week.

Another good sign: Fewer than 100 people were hospitalized with the virus as of Wednesday, down from nearly 700 earlier this spring, per the Star Tribune.

Of note: Cases are rising among Black Minnesotans, who have been vaccinated at lower rates than the overall population, Montgomery notes.

The bottom line: The vaccines are working — nationwide, more than 99% of deaths in May were among unvaccinated people. So if you've gotten your shot(s), you have a high level of protection.

  • But the virus is still circulating and unvaccinated Minnesotans remain at risk of infection and serious illness.
  • "There's a lot of good news and there are things we need to keep our eye on," Malcolm said.

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