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MN Health Officials: COVID Variants Concerning Despite Vaccine Progress

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Minnesota health officials say they're stepping up efforts to monitor COVID variants as these new strains affect community spread. (Adobe Stock)
Minnesota health officials say they're stepping up efforts to monitor COVID variants as these new strains affect community spread. (Adobe Stock)
 By Mike Moen - Producer, Contact
April 9, 2021

MINNEAPOLIS - Minnesota officials say the state has reached a milestone in its vaccination efforts. But they're still urging people to remain cautions amid troubling signs.

The state announced this week it has eclipsed the three-million mark for COVID vaccinations administered. But the health department is seeing elevated case activity, including hospitalizations.

State Epidemiologist Ruth Lynfield said the race between vaccinations and COVID variants continues.

"Our message regarding the variants is that they are spreading," said Lynfield, "and we need to continue to be careful while more Minnesotans get vaccinated."

Health officials say they're keeping a close eye on the UK variant, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now says is the most dominant strain in the U.S.

Minnesota has confirmed more than 1,500 cases of the UK variant, and officials say it's likely behind a large percentage of new infections. Lynfield added the state is adding lab capacity to closely monitor the new novel coronavirus strains.

State Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said Minnesota isn't at the point yet of vaccine supply outpacing demand.

She said she also anticipates more recruitment efforts to convince everyone to get vaccinated. She said some folks, already eligible, have expressed mixed feelings about getting a shot.

"People were not saying that they would never take the vaccine, but they wanted more information," said Malcolm. "They wanted to see how the rollout went, what the experiences of other people were."

She suggested the public seems to want more reassurance about the safety of COVID vaccines. And while case activity and hospitalizations are on the upswing, Minnesota health officials say the latest wave hasn't resulted in a major spike in deaths.

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