The Potluck

K-12 students appear to buck upward trend in state’s COVID cases

By: - November 11, 2021 2:25 pm

Masks will be an important tool to prevent the spread of the virus among children. Photo by Jon Cherry/Getty Images.

New COVID-19 cases associated with preK-12 schools may be on the decline in Minnesota, according to data released by the Minnesota Department of Health Thursday.

During the week of Oct. 10 — the most recent week for which there is complete data — 1,923 students had COVID-19 at school, down from more than 2,600 the week before.

Health officials hope the approval last week of a COVID-19 vaccine for children will curb transmission among students. More than 18,500 Minnesotans ages 5 to 11 have gotten one dose of vaccine so far, along with 264,000 children and teens ages 12 to 17 — or about 60% of that age group.

Meanwhile, Minnesota is facing one of the nation’s worst COVID-19 outbreaks. Over the weekend, the Minnesota Department of Health said there were too many positive cases for its staff to process. Minnesota’s test positivity rate has surpassed 9% — far beyond the 5% threshold state officials say indicates uncontrolled spread of the virus.

More than 1,150 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 Tuesday, the highest number so far this year, and hospitals across the state are filling up. Just 12 intensive-care-unit beds and 45 non-ICU beds were available in the metro.

On Wednesday, Gov. Tim Walz announced the state is opening a second overflow facility for hospital patients who no longer need acute emergency care but aren’t well enough to go home, in hopes of relieving strain on hospitals overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients.

The skilled nursing facility at Good Samaritan Society – Bethany in Brainerd will have 34 beds and be staffed by a team of 14 Minnesota National Guard members and nine federal nurses.

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Rilyn Eischens
Rilyn Eischens

Rilyn Eischens is a former data reporter for the Minnesota Reformer. Rilyn was born and raised in Minnesota and has worked in newsrooms in the Twin Cities, Iowa, Texas and most recently Virginia, where she covered education for The Staunton News Leader. She's an alumna of the Dow Jones News Fund data journalism program and the Minnesota Daily. When Rilyn isn't in the newsroom, she likes to read, add to her plant collection and try new recipes.