Minnesota COVID hospitalizations rise but critical cases don’t.

The number of Minnesotans hospitalized with COVID-19 is again on the rise as the state experiences an ongoing surge in new infections, driven by another highly-contagious variant.

There were 368 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Monday, including 36 in intensive care, according to the Minnesota Department of Health. That’s roughly double the number of patients hospitalized with coronavirus infections in early April, the low-point of the past year.

However, the number of people requiring intensive care has not climbed dramatically in recent weeks. The rate of deaths also remains low, suggesting less overall risk of severe and fatal infections.

The 5,117 new cases reported Tuesday, from over the past weekend, is double the number reported a week ago. It is certainly an undercount as at-home tests, which are not reported to the state, become more popular.

But, just like with hospitalizations and deaths, the rate of new cases is nowhere near what it was at the height of the state’s record-setting January surge.

The original omicron variant drove the winter spike in cases. Relatives of that strain, BA.2 and BA.2.12.1 are now dominant in Minnesota with BA.4 and BA.5 also recently detected.

The Metropolitan Council said Friday the presence of coronavirus DNA in Twin Cities sewage grew week-over-week by more than 20 percent.

There were five more COVID-19 deaths also reported Friday. They ranged in age from their 70s to more than 100 with two residing in private homes and three living in long-term care.

The state’s COVID-19 death toll is 12,534 since March 2020 with 46 percent of fatalities living in long-term care. Nearly 82 percent of those who died were seniors, 65 or older.

Health officials maintain that vaccines remain the best way to avoid severe infection. But protection from the shots wanes significantly after five months and boosters are recommended.

Additional shots are available to those over 50 and who are at high risk of severe infection.

The omicron strains of the coronavirus have proven to infect people who are vaccinated and boosted, but the chances of severe cases are lower.

About 67 percent of Minnesota’s 5.7 million residents have gotten their initial series of shots. But data from the state Department of Health says just 46 percent of the population is up-to-date on their vaccinations with the recommended booster dose.

Minnesota has administered 9.8 million doses of vaccine since the shots became available in December 2020, including 2.2 million booster doses.

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