Oct. 20—Minnesota added 32 more COVID-19 fatalities Wednesday to the state's total, and they ranged in age from as young as their early 40s to their late 90s.
Three of the latest deaths to be reported lived in long-term care and 29 resided in private homes. Thirty of the fatalities occurred in October, one is from September and one is from May.
Deaths are not reported in a uniform way because they have to be investigated before they are added to the state's death toll. There have been 8,489 COVID-19 deaths in Minnesota since March 2020, with 4,712 of those fatalities in long-term care.
Another 124 deaths are suspected to have been caused by the COVID-19, but the person never had a positive coronavirus test.
Deaths are characterized as a lagging indicator of an outbreak by state health officials. That means deaths tend to rise weeks or months after infections and hospitalizations.
Minnesota showed a week-over-week decline in new cases for the fourth straight day on Wednesday. However, a few days' worth of data does not necessarily constitute a trend, but some of the state's pandemic measures suggest the state's fourth surge may be receding.
The cases have been driven by the highly contagious delta variant of the coronavirus. While the delta surge has ebbed elsewhere in the U.S., it has intensified in Minnesota and other states with colder climates.
The 1,858 new infections reported Wednesday bring Minnesota's total to 765,761 infections since the pandemic began. Of those, 96 percent have recovered enough they no longer need to be isolated.
An estimated 17,200 people with active cases are recovering at home. Another 935 are hospitalized, including 240 in critical condition.
Hospital capacity remains tight in much of the state.
Health officials maintain vaccines are the best way to avoid severe infections and to slow the spread of COVID-19. The Minnesota Department of Health released more nuanced data about breakthrough cases for the first time Wednesday.
It shows people who are unvaccinated are 15 times more likely to be hospitalized and 30 times more likely to die than those who are fully vaccinated, said Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm.
"This really does show the key point, that again, the current wave of COVID infections is concentrated heavily among people who are not fully vaccinated," Malcolm said. "It shows the infection risk is there for all age groups, not just older Minnesotans."
Out of the 3.2 million people who are fully vaccinated, more than 98 percent have not reported a breakthrough case. There have been 45,827 breakthrough infections reported to health officials and, of those, 2,178 have been hospitalized and 263 have died.
Health officials have said the vast majority of severe cases in fully vaccinated residents have been seniors and those with severe underlying health problems.
Minnesota has administered 6.6 million doses of vaccine, and 3.4 million people have gotten at least one dose. Roughly 73 percent of eligible residents, age 12 and older, have gotten at least one dose of vaccine.