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