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The Free Press and MPR News

MANKATO — Seven area counties combined for 23 newly confirmed COVID-19 cases Tuesday, the smallest daily uptick so far in February.

The uptick continues a general trend of lower case counts on Mondays and Tuesdays related to reporting lags from the weekend. Last Tuesday had one of the lower counts in February as well.

South-central Minnesota also had no newly confirmed COVID deaths Tuesday, keeping its pandemic death toll at 211.

The Minnesota Department of Health reported one new COVID death statewide for the second straight day. Minnesota’s pandemic death toll rose to 6,434.

For new cases, Blue Earth and Watonwan counties led the region with six each. Two area counties, Le Sueur and Sibley, had no newly confirmed cases Tuesday.

The full list of newly confirmed cases by county includes:

• Blue Earth County — 6

• Watonwan County — 6

• Nicollet County — 3

• Waseca County — 3

• Martin County — 3

• Brown County — 1

• Faribault County — 1

Statewide, Minnesota’s COVID vaccination effort is still searching for traction following a mild upswing. Officials, though, are anticipating a busy week as some 45,000 weather-delayed shots make their way into the state atop the expected 100,000 doses from the feds.

The state health department on Tuesday reported about 7,400 new vaccinations, the lowest daily count in two weeks. Only about 2,300 more Minnesotans received their first shot.

Public health leaders say the cold snap that gripped the nation recently delayed vaccine shipments to Minnesota, and that’s depressing vaccination counts.

Gov. Tim Walz told reporters Tuesday he was “very optimistic” that in the next couple of weeks, the state will be able to give residents a better sense of when they’ll be vaccinated based on age and health conditions.

About 13.7% of Minnesotans age 16 and older had received at least one dose as of the Tuesday update, with about 6.5% completely vaccinated. Nearly 42% of Minnesotans 65 and older have received at least one shot.

In the south-central region, a total of 30,733 residents received first doses as of Tuesday’s update, or 13.2% of the population. There were 13,450 area residents who’d completed their vaccine series, or 5.8% of the population.

Minnesota is ranked 17th among states in doses administered per 100,000 people, according to data collected by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Vaccination questions aside, Minnesota’s COVID numbers show the state continuing on a steady, positive path.

Tuesday marked two consecutive days with only one reported death. It’s the first time since Minnesota’s second recorded death on March 26 that the state has reported one or fewer COVID deaths two days in a row.

Hospitalization rates are encouraging. There were 269 people with COVID in Minnesota hospitals as of Monday. The number needing intensive care ticked up to 54 but continues to hover around levels from the spring.

Known active cases came in at about 6,500. The overall trend remains steady at late September levels.

Follow Brian Arola @BrianArola

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