Live updates: COVID-19 cases and trends in Minnesota

Here are the latest developments on coronavirus spread in Minnesota, vaccine shipments, and the COVID relief bill.

ST PAUL, Minn. — Thursday, Dec. 24

  • MDH reports 79 COVID deaths, pushing past 5,000 mark
  • No COVID-19 numbers on Friday, Dec. 25
  • Delays on Moderna vaccine shipments will impact at least four Minnesota providers, weather adds further complications
  • Gov. Tim Walz signs executive order to open pools for limited use
  • White House coronavirus coordinator Deborah Birx says she will retire

Minnesota has reached another grim milestone in the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, passing the threshold of 5,000 lives lost to the virus.

Numbers released Thursday by the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) reflect 79 fatalities in the past day, bringing the state’s death toll to 5,050 since the start of the pandemic. Deaths have remained high across the state, even while the number of cases has been trending down since the massive spike in late November and early December. 

MDH recorded 1,917 new coronavirus cases in the last 24-hour reporting period, 400 more than were reported Wednesday, but still significantly lower than in recent weeks. Those new cases are based on the results of 51,675 tests (46,982 PCR, 4,693 Antigen) processed in private and state labs.

Health officials consider a positive PCR test a confirmed COVID case, while a positive Antigen test is labeled as probable. 

Currently 1,048 hospital beds across the state are filled with coronavirus patients, with 238 of those in the ICU. In the Twin Cities metro the percentage of open beds remains lower than health officials would like to see: Only 4.3{50531db320f8e8a316d79d6a285e47c71b6e4f6739df32858cb86474d7e720e9} of non-ICU beds (160) are open as of Thursday, and 39 ICU beds (5.7{50531db320f8e8a316d79d6a285e47c71b6e4f6739df32858cb86474d7e720e9}) are available. Total hospitalizations since the onset of the pandemic are now at 21,105, with 4,500 of those patients requiring care in the ICU.

Of the Minnesotans who have tested positive for COVID-19, 381,269 have recovered to the point they no longer require isolation. 

Young adults continue to account for the largest group of infections, with people from 20 to 24 representing 41,370 cases and three fatalities, while those 25 to 29 number 36,282 cases and six deaths. 

The largest grouping of fatalities involves Minnesotans from 85 to 89, with 960 deaths in just 5,346 diagnosed cases. 

Hennepin County has recorded the most COVID activity in Minnesota with 84,116 cases and 1,345 deaths, followed by Ramsey County with 36,203 cases and 654 deaths, Dakota County with 29,355 cases and 262 deaths, and Anoka County with 28,326 cases and 307 fatalities. 

Cook County in northeastern Minnesota has seen the least COVID activity with 102 cases and zero deaths. 

State health officials said Wednesday that some delays on Moderna vaccine shipments nationally will impact Minnesota, and a winter storm could exacerbate the situation.

Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) Infectious Disease Director Kris Ehresmann said on a media briefing call Wednesday that when MDH became aware of the shipping delays, they began reaching out to providers. 

They found that four providers in Minnesota have been informed that their vaccine shipments will be delayed, and weather will complicate that as well. MDH will provide updates to the public as they become available.

Ehresmann also announced Wednesday that MDH now has a publicly accessible page giving information on vaccines coming to Minnesota at

Ehresmann pointed out that there is lag time between when the vaccine doses are allocated to Minnesota, delivered, administered and then reported. She said while the website shows 2,999 doses administered today, MDH has preliminary data that more than 11,500 doses have already been administered in Minnesota.

MDH Commissioner Jan Malcolm said on the call that COVID-19 spread continues at an “unabated pace” nationally and globally. In Minnesota, however, case numbers continue dropping from their November peak, with the lowest daily count since Oct. 21 reported on Wednesday.

“Happy to say that the data continues to show some encouraging trends,” Malcolm said, though deaths continue at a “heartbreaking pace.”

Malcolm said Minnesota will likely cross the threshold of 5,000 deaths from the virus on Christmas Eve.

“What a sad time of year to think about 5,000 families not having their loved ones with them,” she said.

Malcolm said it’s important to remember that although Minnesota’s case numbers are going down relative to the state’s peak, the numbers are still high when compared with many other places in the country.

MDH Infectious Disease Director Kris Ehresmann said that since hospitalization and death numbers are lagging significantly from case numbers, the high rates of death Minnesota is seeing in December are a result of the peak case numbers back in November.

“As we were looking at the highest case numbers in November, we were seeing our deaths increase, but we weren’t seeing the highest deaths in November,” she said. “We’ve had a December with the highest death counts. And that’s because in December we are sort of reaping the results of the high November rates.”

Ehresmann said she hopes that January death numbers will decrease as a result of declining cases in December.

Malcolm said that Minnesotans’ hard work to take prevention guidelines seriously is having a positive impact on the COVID-19 situation statewide.

“For that we thank you, and your neighbors thank you,” she said. “This is important not just to protect yourself and your immediate family.”

Malcolm asked Minnesotans to limit indoor social gatherings to two households with no more than 10 people, and maintain social distance. Outdoor gatherings are limited to 15 people with no more than three households.

“Now is not the time to let down our guard, and these numbers have fallen because of what we’ve done,” Malcolm said. “It’s important to keep paying attention.”

RELATED: Republicans block $2,000 COVID-19 checks despite Trump demand

New COVID-19 cases in Minnesota continue to drop, but deaths again spiked on Wednesday.

According to the Minnesota Department of Health, 75 people died of the coronavirus in the past day. That’s more than three times the daily totals on Monday and Tuesday, but numbers of deaths have frequently been in the 70s and higher over recent weeks, even with cases dropping.

On Wednesday, MDH reported 1,513 new cases of the coronavirus. Of those, 1,207 were identified by PCR test – considered confirmed, and 306 by antigen test – considered probable. That’s the lowest number of new cases in over two months, since 1,068 new confirmed PCR cases were reported on Oct. 21.

Testing numbers were down considerably over the past 24-hour reporting period as well, with 17,952 PCR tests and 5,611 antigen tests performed across the state. That’s the lowest testing volume since Dec. 15.

Statewide hospitalizations due to COVID-19 have generally been trending downward for the month of December, but they were up as of Tuesday, the latest data available. In the metro, 6.3{50531db320f8e8a316d79d6a285e47c71b6e4f6739df32858cb86474d7e720e9} of staffed ICU beds are available, and only 3.2{50531db320f8e8a316d79d6a285e47c71b6e4f6739df32858cb86474d7e720e9} of non-ICU beds are available.

Gov. Tim Walz signed an executive order Wednesday reopening pools for lap swim and organized swim team sports beginning Monday, Jan. 4, 2021. Walz’s order specifies that facilities must follow social distancing requirements that are specific to pools and can be found in the Stay Safe Minnesota guidance.

MDH is expected to hold a briefing call at 2 p.m. Wednesday to update the public on COVID-19 spread in Minnesota and recommendations for holiday safety.

KARE 11’s coverage of the coronavirus is rooted in Facts, not Fear. Visit for comprehensive coverage. Have a question? Text it to us at 763-797-7215. And get the latest coronavirus updates sent right to your inbox every morning. Subscribe to the KARE 11 Sunrise newsletter here. Help local families in need: 

The state of Minnesota has set up a data portal online at