The Minnesota COVID-19 case growth rate has gone up for 25 consecutive days when other critical trend lines are also heading in the wrong direction, according to state health officials.
The state's test positivity rate and hospitalization growth rate are also at levels that public officials consider to be warning signs.
"We are definitely not out of the woods yet with this pandemic," Minnesota Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said.
The state's priority will be to grow vaccination rates faster than COVID-19 case growth, Malcolm said. Last week saw the highest number of shots given, with 335,381 doses being administered — about 11% of the nearly 3 million shots into arms.
There were even about 1,200 COVID-19 vaccines given on Easter Sunday, according to state data.
With 42% of the vaccine-eligible population getting at least one shot, the state wants to drive that number higher. It will launch a campaign this week to encourage more food service workers to get vaccinated.
COVID-19 cases are at an average rate of 27.5 per 100,000 Minnesotans, up from the 13.4 seen 25 days ago.
"We have reason to hope that the case growth that we are seeing now won't lead to a spike as terrible as the one we had in November and December," Malcolm said, pointing to the progress on vaccinations.
At the height of the case surge last fall, the average growth rate was 125.4.
The testing positivity rate is 6%, one percentage point higher than the caution threshold of 5% that was reached a week ago.
Like other trend lines monitored by the state, the rates lag behind by 10 days to account for reporting delays. Malcolm said Tuesday that the positivity rate within the lag period is trending higher.
The state's hospitalization rate is 8.3 per 100,000 residents, a level that health officials consider to be high risk.
On Monday, there were 497 people in the state's hospitals who have tested positive for COVID-19, a 9% increase from the previous day.
Of those, 114 were in intensive care units. Most of the growth in admissions was in non-ICU patients, which went from 342 on Sunday to 383 on Monday.
State epidemiologist Dr. Ruth Lynfield noted that the average age of those hospitalized is trending down as 82.7% of the state's elderly have received at least one vaccine dose.
Throughout the pandemic, the hospital patient median age was 65, but admissions toward the end of March had a median age of 59, she said.
Minnesota health officials announced 3,014 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday, but interpreting that number is a little murky because of delays caused by the Easter holiday and two other factors that created glitches in the totals.
On Saturday, a "technical issue" left out 600 new cases that should have been included in the daily total, according to MDH. They are part of the 3,014 cases reported Tuesday.
Tuesday's daily number should also have included an unspecified number of cases that a diagnostic testing laboratory failed to report. Those cases are expected to be included in daily totals at a later date.
Four additional deaths were also reported Tuesday. All of the fatalities were people older than 54 who lived at a private residence.
Altogether, 530,662 Minnesotans have tested positive for the coronavirus that causes the disease and 6,889 people have died.
First doses have been given to 1,841,585 state residents, 1,192,051 receiving the recommended number of shots needed for immunity protection.
About 97% of all shots given in Minnesota have been either the two-dose Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. The one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine has been used on 91,228 people as of Sunday.
Over the past two days, 29,635 COVID-19 test results were reported to state officials.
Minnesotans appear to have headed to testing centers ahead of the Easter holiday, with 50,503 test results reported on Thursday, the highest one-day total since March 3.
Glenn Howatt • 612-673-7192