ST. PAUL — The snow and perilously cold conditions ravaging much of the continental U.S. will delay shipments of the vaccine for COVID-19 to Minnesota, according to state health officials.
That the winter storm is complicating the distribution of vaccines to states such as Minnesota — states that have so far avoided energy blackouts and widespread road closures — speaks to the storm's severity.
"So providers are having to reschedule appointments as they learn about the status of their shipments," Minnesota Department of Health epidemiology chief Kris Ehresmann told reporters on a phone call Tuesday, Feb. 16.
The state should, however, still be on track to administer its 1 millionth dose of the vaccine next week, Department Commissioner Jan Malcolm said. It was reported Tuesday that a total of 927,384 doses of the vaccine have so far been used in Minnesota.
Most of the doses have been used on health care workers and nursing home residents, who make up the initial group being prioritized in the vaccine rollout. The state's teachers, school employees, child care workers and senior citizens are slowly being added to the ranks of the vaccinated as well.
In total 250,027 people have received the requisite two doses. Approximately 686,200 people have received at least one dose.
It wasn't clear Tuesday how many vaccination appointments the winter storm could upend.
The National Weather Service said the storm is expected to bring more snow and ice to the southern U.S. before moving off land via the Maine coast. But a second storm affecting the same area that has already been plunged in some places to record low temperatures was predicted to form Tuesday as well.
The cold air mass responsible for the storms will linger over the central U.S. until midweek before moving east, according to the weather service.
Amid the cold, health officials on Tuesday also reported an additional 456 cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. A total of 474,621 infections have now been documented in Minnesota since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
Two additional deaths, both of which were reported in the Twin Cities metro area, were also reported Tuesday, bringing the state's pandemic death toll to 6,380.
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.