Heading into Thanksgiving, Minnesota’s fourth surge in coronavirus continues to infect residents at a high rate and hospitalizations and deaths are at levels not seen since the state’s worst surge.
There were 4,718 new infections reported by the state Department of Health on Monday, bringing the state total to 875,917 since the pandemic began. The current rate of test-positivity is above the high-risk threshold and Minnesota has one of the worst rates of new cases in the nation.
There were 37 new deaths recorded Monday bringing the toll to 9,192 including 4,884 in long-term care. The latest deaths to be reported ranged in age from their 50s to their 90s with 25 residing in private homes, 11 in long-term care and one in a motel.
All of the latest reported fatalities occurred in November.
Hospitals remain full across much of the state and intensive care beds are extremely limited. As of Friday, there were 1,373 patients hospitalized include 330 in critical condition.
Health officials maintain that vaccines are the best way to avoid a severe infection and to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Masks and social distancing are also recommended, especially in crowded situations.
While vaccines offer protection, the number of cases in people who are fully vaccinated is on the rise. More than 18 percent of the 458,000 infections diagnosed this year have been breakthrough cases.
The last month of data available from the state Department of Health, from mid-September to mid-October, breakthrough infections accounted for 40 percent of cases, 32 percent of hospitalizations and 47 percent of deaths.
The majority of severe breakthrough cases are in older residents whose immunity from the virus wanes over time. That’s why boosters are now recommended for all adults, especially those who are at increased risk.
Health officials say breakthrough rates should not be considered a measure of vaccine efficacy and they note that more than 97 percent of fully-vaccinated residents have not reported an infection.
Minnesota has administered 7.5 million doses of vaccine including 816,000 booster shots. About 69 percent of the eligible population has gotten at least one dose and 3.3 million residents have completed their vaccine series.