COVID-19 Tuesday update: Hospitalizations hit another 2021 record

Minnesota hit another yearly record for COVID-19 hospitalizations Tuesday with 1,621 patients requiring care as state leaders continue to scramble to address capacity challenges.

Minnesota last had more than 1,600 patients needing hospital care for COVID-19 in early December 2020. The state’s coronavirus-related hospitalizations peaked at more than 1,860 in late November of that year.

State data shows 82 percent of the state’s hospitals have no available adult intensive care beds and 39 percent have no available regular hospital beds. Pediatric hospital beds are also in short supply in much of the state.

Capacity challenges are largely a staffing issue as health care workers have spent nearly two years battling the pandemic. Staff shortages in long-term care have also caused a bottleneck with about 70 percent of the state’s facilities are unable to take new patients.

In response, Gov. Tim Walz has mobilized the Minnesota National Guard and sought aid from federal medical teams. He’s also loosened some rules for emergency staff and provided incentives for workers to stay on the job and for new hires.

The 1,621 people hospitalized with COVID-19 include 335 in critical condition. An estimated 34,600 people with active cases are recovering at home.

The Minnesota Department of Health reported 12,445 new coronavirus infections and 45 new COVID-19 deaths on Tuesday. The latest outbreak statistics are from multiple days over the weekend.

The latest deaths to be reported including a Hennepin County resident between the age of 15 and 19. Eight of those whose deaths were reported resided in long-term care, 36 lived in private homes and one was homeless.

Since the pandemic began, 9,699 Minnesotans have died from COVID-19 including 5,001 residents of long-term care facilities. Another 124 fatalities are believed to have been caused by the coronavirus, but the person never had a positive test.

The 12,445 new cases reported brings the state total to 945,445 since March of 2020. More than 11,000 people have been infected multiple times.

Minnesota’s rate of positive tests, new cases and hospitalizations continues to be well above the state’s high-risk threshold. The death rate is slightly lower than during the state’s worst surge, in the late fall of 2020, before vaccines were available.

Health officials maintain that vaccines are the best way to avoid a severe infection and to slow the spread of COVID-19. Masking, social distancing and other mitigation measures are also highly recommended in all indoor public places.

While vaccines offer protection, that immunity wanes considerably after six months. About 20 percent of all infections diagnosed in 2021 were in people who were fully vaccinated.

Boosters are now urged for all adults.

Minnesota has administered almost 8 million doses of vaccine including 1.2 million boosters. More than 3.6 million people have gotten at least one dose of vaccine, roughly 70 percent of the eligible population.

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