Just four local COVID cases and no additional deaths

·3 min read

Jun. 30—MANKATO — The numbers continue a promising trend as there were just four new COVID-19 cases reported Wednesday in the local nine-county area.

Blue Earth, Le Sueur, Martin and Nicollet counties each had one new case according to the Minnesota Department of Health.

There were no additional deaths reported in the area. Statewide there were seven deaths reported and 81 new COVID-19 cases. On Tuesday there were no additional deaths reported in Minnesota.

Wednesday's COVID-19 data offers fresh evidence of a rapidly shrinking pandemic in Minnesota. New and active cases and hospital admissions remain at or near their April 2020 lows.

Equally encouraging: It's been more than a month since Minnesota ended all statewide COVID-19 capacity limits on bars, restaurants and other public gathering spaces. Officials had been watching to see if the end of those restrictions generated more viral spread. It has not.

The vaccination pace remains the biggest downside in the data.

The current rate is barely moving the needle forward toward the goal of getting a shot into 70 percent of residents 16 and older. It will be mid-August before the state reaches that goal. Wide gaps remain between age groups and regions.

Disease conditions continue to improve, enough so that the Minnesota House and Senate overnight effectively ended the COVID-19 peacetime emergency used by Gov. Tim Walz to manage the state's pandemic response. Walz said he no longer needs the powers.

Known, active COVID-19 cases in Minnesota dropped to 758 in Wednesday's data, staying below 1,000 for the 10th consecutive reporting day. It's part of a stunning drop since May 1, when Minnesota had more than 15,000 active cases.

Testing still key

Even as Minnesotans continue to push back COVID-19 through vaccination and other measures, health officials said testing will remain a key tool in the coming months to help Minnesota keep the virus at bay.

The Department of Health offered updated guidance for who should get tested and when. They said testing is particularly important for those younger than 12, who are not yet eligible for the vaccine.

"Thanks to the nearly 3 million Minnesotans who have been vaccinated, we've been able to slow the spread of COVID-19," Commissioner Jan Malcolm said in a statement. "But with variants continuing to circulate, the pandemic is not over, especially if you or your children are not vaccinated yet. That means testing can still be a very important tool."

The updated guidance includes the following key points:

—People who are not fully vaccinated should get tested if they are in contact with someone who has COVID-19.

—People who are not fully vaccinated should also get tested every two weeks if they have frequent contact with people outside their household or if they participate in activities where social distancing may not be possible.

—People who are not fully vaccinated should get tested after travel within the U.S.

—Vaccinated or not, anyone who travels internationally should get tested upon returning to Minnesota.

COVID-19 testing is free. Mankato has a testing site.

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