COVID

As Minnesota comes out of the holidays, the highly contagious omicron variant continues to spread across the state causing a rise in case counts.

“Minnesotans need to know that the omicron surge most definitely has reached Minnesota and it’s frankly circulating like wildfire,” Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) Commissioner Jan Malcolm said during a news briefing Friday.

MDH reported 7,833 newly reported COVID-19 infections and 33 newly reported deaths Jan. 7.

Friday’s numbers include data from 24-hour period ending at 4 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 6, of a backlog of positive tests that has elevated today's newly reported cases slightly.

The state health department reports a seven-day new case average of more than 5,000 a day.

Just last week, the state surpassed 1 million COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began in March 2020.

According to MDH, Dakota County reported 589 new cases of COVID-19 Friday and one new death from the virus.

Reported case numbers only make up a partial number of COVID-19 cases as some people with symptoms don’t get tested, asymptomatic people aren’t getting tested and as at-home testing becomes more available.

Malcolm said reported COVID-19 numbers aren’t as accurate in representing the number of positive cases in the state as at-home rapid testing has now become the primary way people are getting tested.

“Rapid at-home tests are not reported to public health authorities,” she said. “And with more and more of that being the testing method of preference nationally, that just means that we have less and less of the same kind of confirmation of case numbers that we’ve had.”

The omicron surge has overtaken delta as the dominant variant in Minnesota, Malcolm said at the news briefing.

“Various estimates [indicate] that [omicron] is now close to, or perhaps even already above, 90 percent of all of the COVID-19 cases coming in now,” she said.

Malcolm said omicron seems to cause less severe illness on average, especially among the vaccinated and boosted.

“But if you’re not vaccinated and especially if you’re older and have underlying health conditions, the risk of severe illness is still significant even with omicron,” she said.

With the highly contagious variant spreading, state health officials recommend everyone get their booster shots, stay home if they have any symptoms, get tested and wear high-quality masks.

Written By

Reporter

Sophia Voight is a reporter for the Hastings Star Gazette. She is from Oshkosh, WI and graduated from the UW Oshkosh with a bachelor's degree in Multimedia Journalism in 2021. She can be reached with any news tips at svoight@orourkemediagroup.com

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