ST. PAUL — The Minnesota Department of Health is encouraging careful consideration of COVID-19 risks in holiday plans as the virus' stubborn fourth wave strains the state's hospitals.

Hospitalizations for COVID-19 in Minnesota remained at the highest levels since December 2020 as average new cases and positive test rates continued to rise, according to data released by state health officials Monday, Nov. 15. Cases last week reached levels not seen since nearly a year ago.

A continued wave of cases and hospitalizations has put mounting pressure on hospitals across Minnesota, with some care providers serving rural areas in the central part of the state warning beds had reached capacity.

Dr. Cindy Firkins Smith, vice president of rural health for CentraCare, told the West Central Tribune strained capacity could impact care for hospitals in Wilmar, St. Cloud and nearby communities.

“If you go into the emergency room with a heart attack, stroke or sepsis, you are at risk for not getting care,” said Smith, who also practices medicine with Carris Health..

WDAY logo
listen live
watch live
Newsletter signup for email alerts

"As we come up on the end-of-year holidays, we find ourselves at a difficult point in the pandemic," the state health department said in a Monday news release. "Vaccination numbers continue to rise, and the recent authorization of vaccinations for kids ages 5 to 11 is encouraging. On the other hand, the highly contagious delta variant is driving Minnesota’s COVID-19 case numbers to an alarmingly high level."

MDH urged vaccinations for those who have not gotten the shot yet, avoiding crowded poorly ventilated spaces and avoiding gatherings if symptomatic. Officials also recommended wearing a well-fitting mask if not vaccinated, or if vaccinated and attending an event in a community with substantial levels of transmission.

More information on testing for COVID-19 in Minnesota can be found at: https://mn.gov/covid19/get-tested/testing-locations/index.jsp.

Meanwhile, providers across Minnesota continue their push to vaccinate children ages 5-11, who federal officials recently approved to receive the COVID-19 shot. As of Nov. 11, 6% of that age group in Minnesota had received one dose of vaccine. More information can be found at https://mn.gov/covid19/vaccine/vaxforkids/.

Following are the Minnesota Department of Health COVID-19 case rates, deaths, hospitalizations and vaccinations as of Monday, Nov. 15. Because all data is preliminary, some numbers and totals may change from one day to the next.

MDH had no deaths to report on Monday as officials did not process death data on Nov. 11, Veterans Day. The state will resume reporting deaths on Tuesday.

Statewide case rates

  • NEW CASES: 5,266
  • SEVEN-DAY, ROLLING AVERAGE OF NEW CASES PER 100,000 PEOPLE: 60.9 (as of 11/5)

  • TOTAL CASES, INCLUDING REINFECTIONS: 846,887
  • TOTAL REINFECTIONS: 9,122
  • SEVEN-DAY, ROLLING AVERAGE TEST POSITIVITY RATE: 9.7% (as of 11/5)

Hospitalizations, deaths

  • ACTIVE HOSPITALIZATIONS: 1,282

  • TOTAL HOSPITALIZATIONS: 43,193

  • DEATHS, NEWLY REPORTED: 0 (reporting resumes Tuesday)

  • TOTAL DEATHS: 8,996

Vaccinations

  • FIRST DOSE ADMINISTERED: 3,530,246 and 67.7% of residents 5 or older

  • COMPLETED SERIES (2 doses): 3,314,412 and 63.6% of residents 5 or older

Vaccination data reflect numbers reported Nov. 11.

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 righthand corner of the homepage.