COVID-19 case totals stay low in region Monday

·3 min read

May 17—MANKATO — South-central Minnesota counties combined for 18 new COVID-19 cases Monday, continuing an encouraging stretch of low numbers.

Monday's total was one of the smallest upticks for the region so far in 2021, according to the Minnesota Department of Health. May 11, a Tuesday, had only 14 new cases.

While Mondays and Tuesdays regularly have the lowest case totals of the week, overall numbers have been trending down since April.

Also Monday, the health department reported no new COVID-19 deaths statewide. Minnesota's pandemic death toll remains at 7,296.

Of the 18 new cases in the south-central region, Blue Earth County had eight of them. Nicollet and Brown counties each had three.

Waseca, Faribault and Sibley counties had no new cases. The full list of new cases by county includes:

* Blue Earth County — 8

* Nicollet County — 3

* Brown County — 3

* Le Sueur County — 2

* Watonwan County — 1

* Martin County — 1

Statewide, Minnesota's COVID-19 data has settled into another good-news, bad-news groove. The numbers continue to show the disease in retreat following a spring surge. But the push to get more Minnesota adults vaccinated is languishing.

The count of known, active COVID-19 cases came in at 8,114 — fewer than half its most recent high of about 20,000 in mid-April, and the lowest level since March 11.

There were 423 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Minnesota; 108 needed intensive care. Both figures continue to trend down from their recent peaks. New hospital admissions have dropped significantly.

The state has recorded 595,016 total confirmed or probable cases so far in the pandemic, including the 589 posted Monday. About 97% of Minnesotans known to be infected with COVID-19 in the pandemic have recovered to the point where they no longer need to isolate.

While the overall trends are solid, officials are increasingly concerned about the spread of COVID-19 in younger people. They've been urging more testing of middle and high school students and weekly testing for athletes, coaches, referees and other youth sports participants.

People in their 20s still make up the age bracket with the state's largest number of confirmed cases — more than 110,000 since the pandemic began. The number of high school-age youth confirmed with the disease also has grown, with more than 48,000 15- to 19-year-olds known to be infected during the pandemic.

On the vaccine front, more than 2.7 million residents 16 and older now have at least one dose; more than 2.3 million have completed their vaccinations as of Monday's update.

That works out to about 53.1% of the 16-and-older population completely vaccinated and 61.6% with at least one shot, including 88% of those 65 and older.

In south-central Minnesota, about 49.9% of the 16-and-older population — 93,367 people — is completely vaccinated. About 55.5% have at least one shot — 103,977 people.

State health officials are not yet reporting vaccinations among newly eligible 12- to 15-year-olds, but over the weekend it reported nearly 15,000 new vaccinations of people with "unknown" age.

Most of these are probably 12- to 15-year-olds who aren't being properly reported by the health department's computer systems, designed in a world where the minimum age for COVID-19 vaccines was 16.

Follow Brian Arola @BrianArola