May 18—MANKATO — Seven area counties combined for 25 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday, a slight rise from Monday's 18.
Tuesday's uptick in south-central Minnesota was still relatively small compared to the average so far in May, according to the Minnesota Department of Health. Mondays and Tuesdays regularly have smaller rises due to reporting lags from the weekend.
The south-central region also had no newly confirmed COVID-19 deaths, although there were 14 statewide. Minnesota's pandemic death toll rose to 7,310.
Of the 25 new cases in the region, nine were in Blue Earth County. Nicollet County's five were the next most.
Two area counties, Brown and Le Sueur, had no new cases. The full list of new cases by county includes:
* Blue Earth County — 9
* Nicollet County — 5
* Watonwan County — 4
* Waseca County — 2
* Sibley County — 2
* Martin County — 2
* Faribault County — 1
Statewide, Minnesota's newest COVID-19 numbers offer more evidence the disease is ebbing following a spring surge. But the push to get more Minnesota adults vaccinated continues to languish.
Tuesday's health department data showed the average count of new cases remaining below 1,000, including two consecutive days with fewer than 600 new cases. Active case counts are also falling.
Vaccinations, though, have slowed to a relative crawl, raising concerns that hundreds of thousands of Minnesota adults might choose to go unvaccinated.
Despite concerns around the sputtering vaccination rate, the overall pandemic picture continues to brighten.
As of Tuesday, the count of known, active COVID-19 cases came in at 7,384 — less than half its most recent high of around 20,000 in mid-April, and the lowest level since March 10.
There were 440 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Minnesota; 112 needed intensive care. Both figures continue to trend down from their recent peaks. New hospital admissions have dropped significantly and are trending at six-week lows.
While the overall trends are solid, officials are increasingly concerned about the spread of COVID-19 in younger people. They've been urging more testing of middle and high school students and weekly testing for athletes, coaches, referees and other youth sports participants.
More than 2.7 million residents 16 and older now have at least one vaccine dose; more than 2.3 million have completed their vaccinations as of Tuesday's update.
The statewide numbers work out to about 53.3% of the 16-and-older population being completely vaccinated and 61.7% with at least one shot, including 88% of those 65 and older.
In south-central Minnesota, 104,161 residents now have at least one vaccine dose. For second doses, 93,719 residents have completed their vaccinations.
The totals work out to about 55.6% of the region's 16-and-older population receiving at least one dose and 50% being completely vaccinated.
The vaccination pace, however, has plummeted in recent weeks. The seven-day trend is running at about 34,000 shots daily across the state, down to levels not seen since late February. Minnesota was averaging close to 60,000 shots a day in mid-April.
State public health leaders have been pleading with those still not vaccinated to get their shots. Eligible Minnesotans can now walk in for a COVID-19 vaccination without an appointment at the state's community vaccination program locations, including Mankato's on Tuesdays.
Follow Brian Arola @BrianArola