ST. PAUL — Minnesota health officials on Thursday, Jan. 21, reported the state's 6,000th death of COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus.
An additional 32 deaths attributed to the disease were reported Thursday morning, bringing Minnesota's coronavirus pandemic death toll to 6,011. The state eclipsed 5,000 COVID-19 deaths barely one month earlier on Christmas eve.
The updated death toll was reported on the same day that nine new COVID-19 vaccination sites were set to open across Minnesota. Residents ages 65 and older can get their vaccinations at the sites, as can school teachers and child care workers, under eligibility guidelines that were expanded in Minnesota this week.
Health care workers and nursing home residents, the latter of whom are especially at risk of dying from COVID-19, received vaccine priority before those guidelines were expanded.
The Minnesota Department of Health reported Thursday that 41,984 people in the state have been given the requisite two doses of the vaccine. A total of 203,839 have received at least one dose.
Officials have said have enough doses will have been delivered to Minnesota by the end of the month to provide first-round doses to the 500,000 health care workers and long-term care facility residents in the state's initial priority group. Only 60,000 additional doses are being shipped to the state each week, however, which health officials said will hinder their ability to vaccinate newly eligible residents in greater numbers.
With the reporting of an additional 1,292 new COVID-19 cases, Minnesota on Thursday also recorded its 450,000th case of the disease since the coronavirus pandemic began. According to Health Department Commissioner Jan Malcolm, Minnesota's COVID-19 situation seems to be stable as of Thursday, with a post-holiday spike in cases appearing not to have materialized.
Testing suggested for young people
Health officials also Thursday made new recommendations for COVID-19 testing. They are encouraging school students returning to the classroom, youth sports and extracurricular activities, as well as students returning to college and technical school campuses, to get tested.
Testing is also being recommended for younger residents who regularly interact or have contact with people outside of their household. The guidance is aimed mainly at residents between the ages of 12 and 25 years, and does not preclude other Minnesotans from getting tests.
Assistant Health Department Commissioner Dan Huff told reporters Thursday that kids and young adults in that age range tend to socialize more outside of their immediate families, which could increase their risk of becoming infected with COVID-19.
"They may be doing more things without mom and dad, especially for our teenagers and college students," Huff said.
Along with new testing recommendations, health officials also Thursday announced the launch of an online survey meant for residents newly testing positive for COVID-19. Officials said the survey will help them investigate the source of new cases more quickly than in the past.
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- Minnesota Department of Health COVID-19 hotline: 651-201-3920.
- COVID-19 discrimination hotline: 833-454-0148
- Minnesota Department of Health COVID-19 website: Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) website.