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Minnesota ends February with sharp decline in COVID-19 deaths

1 March 2022

COVID-19 deaths reported in February are only half the total reported in January in Minnesota, another sign of the declining pandemic wave.

The Minnesota Department of Health on Tuesday reported another 22 COVID-19 deaths, raising the state’s overall pandemic toll to 12,131 and its total in February to 414. The state also reported 2,142 coronavirus infections that were identified over the weekend and more than 1.4 million over the past two years of the pandemic.

While the February number will increase with delayed reporting and verification of COVID-19 deaths, it remains well below the 1,067 deaths reported in December at the peak of the delta pandemic wave, and the 873 reported in January during the omicron wave.

Minnesota on Tuesday also reported a decline in the positivity rate of COVID-19 testing to 5.6% in the week ending Feb. 21. The state hasn’t been below the 5% caution threshold for substantial coronavirus transmission risk since Aug. 2.

COVID-19 hospitalizations in Minnesota also declined to 512 on Monday, down from 1,363 at the start of February. A withering influenza season also has combined to ease pressure on Minnesota hospitals on Monday, which reported 82 open, staffed adult intensive care beds.

The 593 influenza hospitalizations this winter is more than the 35 last season, when mask mandates and stay-at-home measures reduced the spread of illness, but less than the 2,000 to 6,000 reported in a typical flu season in Minnesota.

Health officials believe Minnesota’s progress in providing COVID-19 booster doses played a significant role, even though the omicron coronavirus variant produced a much higher rate of infection in vaccinated residents than earlier variants. Minnesota ranks second among states with 55.8% of its 3.8 million fully vaccinated residents receiving boosters against COVID-19 last fall and this winter.

HealthPartners and Children’s Minnesota contributed to research released Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that showed continued but waning vaccine effectiveness in children 5 and older.

Effectiveness in preventing urgent care and emergency room visits declined from 85% during the delta wave to 34% in the omicron wave in teens 16-17 who had been fully vaccinated within six months. Booster doses restored effectiveness back to 81%, according to the study in Minnesota and nine other states.

Vaccine effectiveness in preventing COVID-19 hospitalizations during the delta and omicron waves was above 90% in children 12 and older who had received shots within six months, but it declined to 74% in younger children. That is still strong protection and is more important than whether the vaccine prevented milder illness that resulted in doctor visits, said Dr. Anupam Kharbanda, a Children’s co-author.

“Clearly the vaccine did not work as well during the omicron period … but what is very reassuring is that the vaccine still worked very well to prevent hospitalizations,” he said.

Minnesota expanded its pediatric incentive program on Tuesday, allowing parents to register in a drawing for five $100,000 college scholarships if their children 5-11 have received COVID-19 vaccine anytime through April 11.

This post was originally published on this site

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