MinnPost provides updates on coronavirus in Minnesota Sunday through Friday. The information is published following a press phone call with members of the Walz administration or after the release of daily COVID-19 figures by the Minnesota Department of Health.

Here are the latest updates from March 15, 2021:

498,218 cases; 6,747 deaths

One more Minnesotan has died of COVID-19, the Minnesota Department of Health said Monday, for a total of 6,747.

The person whose death was announced Monday was a resident of a long-term care facility.

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MDH also said Monday there have been 498,218 total cases of COVID-19 in Minnesota. That number is up 826 from the total announced on Sunday and is based on 16,417 new tests. The seven-day case positivity average, which lags by a week, remains below the 5 percent “caution” threshold, at 3.6 percent. You can find the seven-day positive case average here.

As of Saturday, the most recent day of data available, 1,260,771 people in Minnesota, or 22.7 percent of the state’s population, had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. That’s up 20,631 from the day prior.

The most recent data available show 59 Minnesotans are hospitalized in intensive care with COVID-19, and 201 are in the hospital with COVID-19 not in intensive care. You can find more information about Minnesota’s current ICU usage and capacity here.

More information on cases can be found here.

B117 cluster update

The state has identified 250 cases of the B117 COVID-19 variant in Minnesota. The variant was first identified in the U.K. and is believed to be more transmissible. 

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The COVID-19 cluster in the southwestern Twin Cities metro now includes 140 epidemiologically linked cases. Thirty-two are confirmed to be the B117 variant. Sixty-seven cases are undergoing analysis and 41 were unable to be sequenced.

Scientists are still learning about the B117 variant, but data suggest it may be 50 percent more transmissible than the more common variant and may lead to more severe disease.

Cases are up in Carver County, but it’s unclear how much the increase is driven by the B117 variant.

A community testing site is open this week at the Chanhassen Recreation Center and everyone in the community is encouraged to get tested.

Student athletes encouraged to get tested weekly

MDH is encouraging students who play sports or who are engaged in other activities that make it hard to socially distance get tested weekly, plus three days before games or matches. Students who do not participate in sports, and their families, are encouraged to get tested every two weeks.

To make the process easier, Assistant Health Commissioner Dan Huff said students who use at-home saliva tests through Vault Health can bring their test kits to school and have them mailed to be processed. Schools are already sending teachers’ kits in.

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MDH’s coronavirus website: www.health.state.mn.us/diseases/coronavirus/index.html

MDH’s phone line for COVID-19 questions: 651-297-1304

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