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Minnesota COVID positive rate drops after reaching unprecedented peak

A recent surge in cases may have reached its peak statewide, though hospitalizations and new cases remain high.

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ST. PAUL — Key metrics of the public health risk COVID-19 poses in Minnesota appear to be on the decline after climbing rapidly earlier this month amid a surge of infections driven by the omicron variant.

The Minnesota Department of Health on Tuesday, Jan. 25, reported a seven-day rolling average positive test rate of 23.2% — still at a high for the pandemic, but down from a peak of 23.7% the state reached days before. Tuesday's figure is from Jan. 14, the most recently available date for that metric.

Wastewater data from the Metropolitan Council and the University of Minnesota Medical School show a drop in viral particle load that indicates the omicron surge could soon decline in the Twin Cities area. The council data released last week showing a peak of cases around Jan. 10, which aligns with the date positive test rates plateaued and started to drop.

In partnership with the Minnesota Department of Health, the U of M Medical School works with 44 wastewater treatment plants statewide to monitor for viral particles in sewage. While there are encouraging signs of a decline within two weeks in the Twin Cities, they warned that the spread doesn't appear to be slowing in most other regions of the state. Their analysis showed the virus was on the decline in the south-central part of Greater Minnesota but nowhere else in the non-metro parts of the state.

MDH reported 35,504 new cases of COVID-19 Tuesday, though that count includes weekend numbers. Among the 37 deaths included in the report, one was a person between the ages of 25 and 29 from Hennepin County.

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State health officials said this January's surge of COVID-19 cases created the highest volume of laboratory reports since the beginning of the pandemic, creating a backlog. With more than 19,000 positive cases awaiting review, MDH said the number of positive cases will be inflated in the coming days as it catches up with reports it hasn't been able to process yet.

Hospitalizations remained high, though the number of patients in an intensive care unit has dropped since mid-December. As of Monday, there were 228 people in an ICU for COVID-19, compared to counts in the high 300s the month before. Still, Minnesota's ICU beds statewide remained at 96% capacity.

Following are the MDH COVID-19 case rates, deaths, hospitalizations and vaccinations as of Tuesday. Because all data are preliminary, some numbers and totals may change from one day to the next.

Statewide case rates

  • NEW CASES: 35,504
  • SEVEN-DAY, ROLLING AVERAGE OF NEW CASES PER 100,000 PEOPLE: 216 (as of 1/14)
  • TOTAL CASES, INCLUDING REINFECTIONS: 1,264,935
  • TOTAL REINFECTIONS: 41,935
  • SEVEN-DAY, ROLLING AVERAGE TEST POSITIVITY RATE: 23.2% (as of 1/14)

New case number reflects weekend backlog.

Hospitalizations, deaths

  • ACTIVE HOSPITALIZATIONS: 1,507
  • TOTAL HOSPITALIZATIONS: 55,642
  • DEATHS, NEWLY REPORTED: 37
  • TOTAL DEATHS: 11,230

Vaccinations

  • FIRST DOSE ADMINISTERED: 3,825,849 or 73.4% of ages 5 and up
  • COMPLETED SERIES (2 doses): 3,583,371 or 68.8% of ages 5 and up
  • BOOSTER DOSES ADMINISTERED: 1,993,618
Alex Derosier covers Minnesota breaking news and state government for Forum News Service.
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