West Central Minnesota COVID-19 cases down in latest state update, but hospitalizations are up


— The number of new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in

west central Minnesota

decreased in the latest

weekly situation update

released Thursday by the Minnesota Department of Health.

In the 11 counties tracked by the West Central Tribune, 257 confirmed cases of COVID-19 were reported from Dec. 25 through Dec. 31, about 20 fewer than reported the week before.

Three deaths were reported in the update — two people from Kandiyohi County and one person from Chippewa County.

The state's report of new cases is an undercount, because at-home test results are not included.

In west central Minnesota, 23 people from area counties were hospitalized. The update lists 12 from Stearns County; four from Kandiyohi County; two each from Lac qui Parle, Meeker and Renville counties; and one from Swift County.

In all cases, the numbers in the state updates are preliminary and may change as more information is received.

The state's current death toll attributed to COVID-19 is 13,968, an increase of 35 from last week's report and an average of 5 deaths per day, lower than in last week's report.

The state's cumulative number of cases is 1,741,611, including reinfections. New cases in the past week totaled 4,718, an average of 674 new confirmed cases each day. The daily average was about 140 cases fewer than in the previous report. The omicron variant of the coronavirus accounted for 100% of reported cases last week and all confirmed cases since May.

People who have tested positive for COVID-19 again more than 90 days after an initial lab-confirmed positive test are considered to have a reinfection.

New cases reported in the area last week and the case rate per 100,000 people in each county are as follows:

* Big Stone: 6; 120.1 case rate

* Chippewa: 16; 133.9 case rate

* Kandiyohi: 39; 91.0 case rate

* Lac qui Parle: 3; 44.6 case rate

* Meeker: 12; 51.9 case rate

* Pope: 8; 72.4 case rate

* Redwood: 8; 52.4 case rate

* Renville: 18; 122.9 case rate

* Stearns: 139, 87.7 case rate

* Swift: 2; 21.4 case rate

* Yellow Medicine: 6; 61.1 case rate

The state reported 560 people hospitalized with COVID-19, as of Jan. 3. That includes 515 people hospitalized in medical units, nine fewer than the week before, and another 45 in intensive care units, four fewer than the week before.

Hospitalizations had a seven-day average of 52 in ICUs and 519 in medical units. The daily average is higher for ICUs and for medical units.

As of Jan. 3, 4,007,350 Minnesotans, 72%, have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and 67.9% of the state's population, 3,779,892, have completed the vaccine series.

The number of people listed as being up-to-date with their vaccines, meaning they have had booster shots, is 1,251,497, which is 22.5% of Minnesotans. For ages 6 months through 4 years, up to date means a complete primary series. For ages 5 and older, up to date means a complete primary series and a bivalent booster dose when due.

In June 2022, the department began providing a weekly update, replacing the daily updates that began in spring 2020. The updates are released each Thursday at 11 a.m. and include data received as of 4 a.m. the preceding Tuesday.

When the report refers to numbers from last week, it refers to information gathered from Sunday through Saturday the week before the information is released.