Aug. 16—Community transmission of the coronavirus is at a high level in 62 Minnesota counties and masks are recommended for everyone visiting indoor public places for nearly the entire state.
The recent surge of COVID-19 infections is driven by the more contagious delta variant, which health officials say is responsible for 95 percent of new cases. More than 99 percent of new infections, hospitalizations and deaths are in people who are not fully vaccinated.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend masks be worn indoors in any county where community transmission is considered high or substantial. In Minnesota, 79 of the state's 87 counties meet that threshold and there are just eight counties where spread is considered moderate.
The state Department of Health reported 1,470 new coronavirus cases Monday and five more COVID-19 deaths were recorded. The latest fatalities ranged in age from their 50s to their 90s and all five resided in private homes.
Nearly 11 million samples from 4.8 million Minnesotans have been screened for the coronavirus since March 2020. There have been 626,310 cases diagnosed and 609,532 of those infected have recovered enough they no longer need to be isolated.
There are more than 400 patients hospitalized, including 109 in critical condition. The last time this many hospital beds were occupied with COVID-19 patients was three months ago.
Hospitals are using 17 of their nearly 1,000 "surge capacity" beds. Intensive care and regular hospital beds are in short supply in the Twin Cities metro, according to state data.
Late Sunday, Gov. Tim Walz announced he was extending, until Aug. 22, a reward program offering $100 to anyone who gets their first dose of vaccine. More than 55,450 Minnesotans have applied for the incentive, at a cost of $5.5 million paid with federal relief funds, since the program launched in early August.
The state has seen 7,171 breakthrough infections out of 3 million fully vaccinated residents, or about 0.24 percent. Of those, 584 have required hospitalization and 60 have died.
In total, Minnesota has administered more than 6 million doses of vaccine since December 2020. More than 3.2 million have gotten their first dose and 3 million have completed their vaccination series.
About 73 percent of adults and 70 percent of residents 16 and older have gotten at least one dose of vaccine.