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Minnesota COVID positive test rates reach all-time high

The omicron variant of COVID-19 is pushing infections to heights not seen in over a year.

Coronavirus
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ST. PAUL — The Minnesota Department of Health on Friday, Jan. 7, reported the state's highest-ever seven-day rolling average positive COVID-19 test rate.

Now at, 15.6%, Minnesota has as many positive tests each week on average as it did when the coronavirus first struck the state in spring 2020 — nearly a year before the large-scale rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine. Friday's average is from Dec. 30, as the state has a week delay on weekly rolling average figures.

January's surge in cases comes as the omicron variant of COVID-19 has grown to dominate infections in the state. Based on genomic sequencing of select COVID-19 tests, MDH in mid-December said the variant had overtaken the delta variant in the state.

Omicron first appeared in Minnesota in early December, within a week of the World Health Organization designating the strain a variant of concern. While estimates vary, omicron is generally thought to be much more infectious but less deadly than previous strains.

Hospitalizations remained level in Friday's figures though had been rising since late December and continued to strain hospitals across the state. At 98% full, adult intensive care unit beds remained in short supply, though state data show an encouraging sign: the number of hospital admissions per 100,000 has been on the decline from nearly 25 in early December to 15 at the end of the same month.

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It's yet to be seen whether omicron could threaten to overwhelm health care resources. While the variant is less deadly than those before it, its infectiousness could drive up the overall number of hospitalizations because of the sheer number of people it could infect.

Public health observers such as University of Minnesota infectious disease expert Michael Osterholm predict a wave of omicron cases to last around one month.

Statewide case rates

  • NEW CASES: 6,936
  • SEVEN-DAY, ROLLING AVERAGE OF NEW CASES PER 100,000 PEOPLE: 96.6 (as of 12/30)
  • TOTAL CASES, INCLUDING REINFECTIONS: 1,056,236
  • TOTAL REINFECTIONS: 17,505
  • SEVEN-DAY, ROLLING AVERAGE TEST POSITIVITY RATE: 15.6% (as of 12/29)

Hospitalizations, deaths

  • ACTIVE HOSPITALIZATIONS: 1,467
  • TOTAL HOSPITALIZATIONS: 51,557
  • DEATHS, NEWLY REPORTED: 62
  • TOTAL DEATHS: 10,733

Vaccinations

  • FIRST DOSE ADMINISTERED: 3,771,106 or 72.4% of ages 5 and up
  • COMPLETED SERIES (2 doses): 3,536,755 or 67.9% of ages 5 and up
  • BOOSTER DOSES ADMINISTERED: 1,790,296
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