A Beltrami County teenager has become Minnesota’s sixth COVID-19 death involving someone 19 years of age or younger.
On Friday, the Minnesota Department of Health reported the death of a person aged 15 to 19 along with 61 others from COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by a coronavirus infection. While 86% of the 9,616 deaths from COVID-19 in Minnesota have been in the elderly, a growing proportion has involved younger adults in the latest pandemic wave this summer and fall.
Teenage deaths, however, remain rare, with the first reported in Hennepin County in October and the second in November. State Director of Infectious Diseases Kris Ehresmann said she could not provide the third teenager’s immunization status, but the individual had an underlying health problem. The other three young people were under 10 years old.
State health officials have urged people to get vaccinated against COVID-19 and booster doses and also wear masks in crowded public places given the current rate of viral spread. The state-reported positivity rate for COVID-19 diagnostic tests has risen from 11% to 10.3% in the past two weeks, but health officials fear the Thanksgiving holiday rallies cause a further increase.
Minnesota recorded the third highest rate of new infections in the country in the past seven days, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and reported another 5,685 cases on Friday. The state’s total infections reached 926,931.
The 1,556 COVID-19 hospitalizations in Minnesota on Thursday combined with non-COVID patients to fill more than 96% of inpatient beds.
The state reported the country’s second known infection on Thursday involving an omicron variant of the coronavirus in a man from Hennepin County who recently traveled to New York. The state has found eight samples of people who tested positive that could involve omicron. Genomic sequencing to search for the variant had been completed on five of these samples by Thursday afternoon. Four were negative for omicron.
Omicron has been branded a variant of concern after being identified on November 24 in South Africa because of its rapid spread and potential to evade immunity from a previous infection or vaccination. State Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said on Wednesday that little was known about the variant, but the best strategy for Minnesota is to “stay in violation” and use the vaccination. and other tools to limit viral spread.
“Omicron is just another red flag, if we needed another, that this remains a global challenge that continues to evolve,” Malcolm said Wednesday. “Even though we feel like we are done with the pandemic, it is certainly not over with us. “
Minnesota ranks second among the states for vaccinated adults who received booster doses and 21st among states for its rate of 73.8% of people 5 years and older who received at least one first dose, according to the CDC. Malcolm said she was concerned Minnesota had become “lax” in other protective measures, with surveys showing that wearing masks in public rose from 79% to 22%.