340 new COVID-19 Minnesota cases as growth rate continues to climb

Minnesota health officials announced 340 new COVID-19 infections as the testing positivity rate increased to 2%, more signs that the pandemic is spreading more widely again in the state.

The highly infectious delta variant of the coronavirus has become the dominant strain in Minnesota, accounting for 75% of new infections.

With 47% of state residents not fully vaccinated, public health officials are concerned that the variant could fuel another surge in cases.

Over the last week, 49% of new cases have been among those younger than 35, an age group that has the lowest vaccination rates. Children younger than 12 are not yet eligible for any approved COVID-19 vaccine.

While not all will become seriously ill, a wider spread increases the likelihood that the virus can be passed to those who are more susceptible, including those who are immunocompromised, such as organ transplant recipients, cancer patients and others.

The accelerating COVID-19 case growth, which began in early July, is leading to an uptick in hospitalizations.

There have been more than 100 COVID-19 patients in the state's hospitals for five of the last six days, with 108 hospitalized Wednesday. The number of patients in intensive care has also been increasing slightly, with 27 in the ICU.

Minnesota health care systems say that most patients are unvaccinated. They are also a younger population than in previous surges owing to a fully vaccinated rate of 89% for those older than 64.

Altogether, 65% of Minnesotans 16 and older are fully vaccinated.

State health officials announced four more COVID-19 related deaths, including three who lived in long-term care facilities.

The state's testing positivity rate has gradually been inching upward. Now at 2%, up for 1.1% in late June. Although increasing, it is still below the caution level of 5%.

Glenn Howatt • 612-673-7192

Twitter: @GlennHowatt