MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — As the Food and Drug Administration’s expert panel discusses Thursday whether or not to approve the drug maker Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, health officials in Minnesota reported 3,523 more cases of the virus and 89 more deaths.
For the second day in a row, Minnesota has logged a record for third-highest daily death count. On Wednesday, the number of deaths reported over the previous 24 hours was 82. Since the start of the month, the virus as claimed more than 600 lives. Meanwhile, as reported fatalities have been high, the numbers for daily new cases have decreased, especially when compared to numbers from last month.
The latest Minnesota Department of Health data show that the state’s overall COVID-19 case tally has now surpassed 367,000 while the state’s death toll has climbed to 4,198. Of the most recent deaths, 56 of the victims were residents in long-term care facilities, such as nursing homes. The pandemic has hit those in long-term care hardest, as they make up 65% of the state’s fatalities.
Yet, the virus has proven deadly to younger Minnesotans as well. Among those felled by the virus in the last 24 hours were three people in their 40s and one person in their 20s.
As of Wednesday, more than 1,500 patients were battling COVID-19 in Minnesota hospitals, with 352 patients in intensive care. While hospitalizations are down compared to where they were earlier this month, hospital beds in Minnesota (both regular and ICU) remain near capacity. According to the state’s Response Capacity Dashboard, just 3% of non-ICU beds were available Wednesday in the Twin Cities metro.
In the last 24 hours, more than 40,000 COVID-19 tests were processed for Minnesotans. Since the pandemic began in March, more than 2.7 million people in the state have been tested for the virus. Of those who tested positive, more than 320,000 have recovered and no longer need to self-isolate.
While Americans wait for vaccine approval, officials in Minnesota are planning the vaccine rollout. According to officials, the state aims to vaccinate over 180,000 Minnesotans by the end of the year. The first doses could arrive in the state next week. The first to receive the vaccine will be health care workers and those living in long-term care facilities. Next will be first responders, teachers and school staff. After that will come adults with high risk medical conditions, or those over 65 years old.
Next week, Minnesota lawmakers will meet for the seventh special sessions of the year. Gov. Tim Walz will again ask for an emergency powers extension and lawmakers will work to pass a relief package for businesses devastated by the pandemic and the resulting government restrictions. Currently, Minnesota is in the middle of a four-week restriction period wherein gyms are closed, bars and restaurants can’t serve people indoors, and youth sports are on pause.
On Monday, the governor is expected to announce the next steps regarding the state’s restrictions. As it stands, the four-week restriction period is slated to end on Dec. 18.
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Source: CBS Minnesota