Area COVID cases down, state hits vaccination milepost

·2 min read

May 8—MANKATO — South-central Minnesota had just 38 newly confirmed COVID-19 cases in Saturday's report, the third lowest number in the past two months. The day also brought another vaccination milestone in Minnesota.

None of the nine counties in the region hit double-digits in new cases, and it was the second-lowest total for a Saturday report since last summer. Blue Earth County had nine new cases, followed by eight in Le Sueur County, six in Faribault, five in Nicollet, three each in Sibley and Watonwan counties, two in Martin, and one apiece in Brown and Waseca.

Other than Saturday Feb. 6., when the Minnesota Department of Health reported 36 cases in south-central Minnesota, regional residents haven't started their weekend with such a positive COVID-19 report since August of 2020.

There were 1,321 confirmed and suspected new cases statewide with eight deaths as Minnesota continued its slow but steady downward trend over the past month.

The state also reported Saturday that it hit a new threshold in its vaccination effort: 60% of Minnesotans age 16 and older have now received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine — 2,641,346 people. More than 2.1 million have completed their vaccinations.

The improving news comes even as Minnesota remains a relative hotspot nationally for new cases. In the past seven days, only Michigan has a higher per-capita rate of new cases.

Minnesota has been in the top five for new cases per 100,000 residents since the resurgence of the pandemic in March, although that hasn't translated to a major spike in deaths. In the past week, Minnesota's deaths per capita are precisely at the national average.

Minnesota's performance since the start of the pandemic remains more encouraging. Going back to January of 2020, Minnesota has lost 7,224 residents to COVID — a rate of 129 for every 100,000 people. That's well below the national average of 173, as well as below neighboring states. Wisconsin has a death rate of 130 per 100,000 residents, Iowa is at 189, North Dakota is at 196 and South Dakota is at 223.

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