ST. PAUL — An additional 922 cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, were reported in Minnesota on Tuesday, Jan. 19.
That pushes the total number of cases confirmed in the state since the coronavirus pandemic began even closer to 450,000 on the first day Minnesota's senior citizens can make appointments to receive the vaccine for the disease. Nearly 38,300 Minnesotans have been fully vaccinated so far, meaning they have received both an initial dose of the vaccine as well as a second booster shot.
Another 200,130 Minnesotans have been administered at least one dose.
Soon to join the likes of the vaccinated are not only senior citizens but educators and child care workers as well. State officials this week announced a pilot program that will see nine vaccination sites open throughout Minnesota that will serve those groups by appointment.
Residents aged 65 or older can make an appointment online at mn.gov/covid19/vaccine or by phone by calling either 612-426-7230 or 833-431-2053. School teachers and child care workers will be notified by their employers as to when they should schedule their appointments. None of the sites will take walk-ins.
Demand for appointments was substantial enough Tuesday afternoon, when the online registration portal and phone lines launched, to cause on and off delays for both services. Approximately 6,000 appointments had been made by 2 p.m., Minnesota IT Services Commissioner Tarek Tomes told reporters on a press call, and the health department website was visited 1.1 million.
"I know what the promise of this vaccination means for Minnesota and today's incredible interest has certainly underscored that for everyone," Tomes said.
Appointments are being offered at sites in Anoka, Brooklyn Center, Fergus Falls, Marshall, Mountain Iron, North Mankato, Rochester, St. Cloud, and Thief River Falls Thursday, Jan. 21 through Saturday, Jan. 23. It won't be possible to make appointments next week until that Tuesday, officials said.
Teachers, child care workers and elderly Minnesotans who would rather get their shots at the doctor's office will be told when that option becomes available by their health care providers, health officials said.
Under the Minnesota Department of Health's vaccine prioritization framework, only health care workers and long-term care facility residents in the state have had access to the vaccine so far. About 500,000 people are thought to belong to that initial priority group.
This week's announcement will expand eligibility for the vaccine to approximately 1 million people more, health officials said. Supplies of the vaccine, however, remain limited, with Minnesota receiving about 60,000 doses each week, only a portion of which will be deployed at the nine new vaccine sites.
Health officials say the new pilot sites will serve as a model for future ones that will be opened if and when the vaccine is made more widely available.
"What we learn now will help us ensure a smooth process when more doses arrive from the federal government, and we can open more community vaccination clinics all across Minnesota. Please be patient, there is not enough vaccine for everyone who wants it," Minnesota Health Department Infectious Disease Director Kris Ehresmann said. "If you can’t make an appointment now, you will be able to make one soon."
Minnesota is still on track to have enough doses on hand to provide first-round shots to all members of the initial priority group by the end of January, however, the health department said. More federal guidance on how to structure future priority groups is expected within the next several weeks.
Also Tuesday, State Health Department Commissioner Jan Malcolm said Tuesday that two measures of Minnesota's COVID-19 situation have improved. The weekly rate of new cases grew by 2.1%, she said, down about 4% from 10 days ago.
The percentage of COVID-19 tests that returned positive results, calculated on a seven-day rolling average, also declined from 7.5% to 5.4% over the last five days, Malcolm said.
Six additional COVID-19 deaths were reported on Tuesday as well, all but two of which occurred in the Twin Cities area. Four of the newly reported deaths occurred in long-term care settings.
As a public service, we’ve opened this article to everyone regardless of subscription status. If this coverage is important to you, please consider supporting local journalism by clicking on the subscribe button in the upper right-hand corner of the homepage.
- Minnesota Department of Health COVID-19 hotline: 651-201-3920.
- COVID-19 discrimination hotline: 833-454-0148
- Minnesota Department of Health COVID-19 website: Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) website.