1-26 COVID-19 Update: Minnesota Detects New Virus Variant from Brazil
1-26 COVID-19 Update from Minnesota Department of Health
The Minnesota Department of Health will hold a conference call Tuesday to brief members of the media on the latest public health information regarding COVID-19.
To watch the full briefing, click here.
MDH Confirms Detection of COVID-19 Brazil P.1 variant
The Minnestoa Department of Health (MDH) confirms the nation’s first known COVID-19 case associated with Brazil P.1 variant. MDH officials say a Twin Cities resident recently returned to Minnesota after having traveled to Brazil.
This variant is thought to be more transmissible than the initial strain of the virus that causes COVID-19 disease. However it is not yet known whether the variant causes more severe illness.
“We’re thankful that our testing program helped us find this case, and we thank all Minnesotans who seek out testing when they feel sick or otherwise have reason to get a test,” said Minnesota Commissioner of Health Jan Malcolm in a statement to CCX News.
- The person with Brazil variant became ill during first week of January and the specimen was collected Jan. 9.
- The variant was found through the MDH’s variant surveillance program.
- Each week this program collects 50 random samples from the University of Minnesota clinical laboratories, Infinity Biologix Laboratory in Oakdale, and other testing partners and then conducts special testing using a process called whole genome sequencing.
- Through this program, the state develops a more accurate picture of what specific forms of COVID-19 are circulating in Minnesota.
The MDH Public Health Laboratory also found two more cases of the B.1.1.7 variant – commonly known as the UK variant – through last week’s COVID-19 variant surveillance testing.
- Of the two new cases with the UK variant detected by MDH, both are Twin Cities metro area residents and both reported recent travel to California.
- One had no symptoms but sought testing following their travel, as recommended by MDH and CDC guidelines.
With these latest cases, a total of eight UK variant cases now have been identified in Minnesota, although more are suspected to exist.
More information about variant strains of SARS CoV2 virus can be found on the MDH website:
About COVID-19: COVID-19 variants
Information on precautions and testing associated with traveling can be found at: CDC: Travel
MDH Commissioner Jan Malcolm:
- The fewer people who get COVID-19, the fewer opportunities the virus has to evolve.
- 456,490 total cases of COVID-19 in Minnesota (up 727 on testing volume of just under 11,000)
- 727 cases is lowest daily increase since Sept. 29
- Of the 456,490 total cases, 440,596 (97%) are no longer considered infectious
- 6,106 total COVID-19 deaths in Minnesota (up 8)
- Of the 8 newly reported deaths Tuesday, only one was a resident of long-term care/assisted living
- 7-day case positivity rate in Minnesota is 5.1% (this remained unchanged)
- Hospital bed situation remains stable, said Malcolm.
- Globally, over 100 million cases of COVID-19 since pandemic began; 2.15 million deaths
- In U.S., 25.3 million million since start of pandemic (up 170,000); 421,000 deaths
MDH State Epidemiologist Dr. Ruth Lynfield:
- “These cases illustrate why it is so important to limit travel during a pandemic as much as possible,” said State Epidemiologist Dr. Ruth Lynfield in a statement to CCX News. “If you must travel, it is important to watch for symptoms of COVID-19, follow public health guidance on getting tested prior to travel, use careful protective measures during travel, and quarantine and get tested after travel.”
- “The fewer people are infected with this virus, the fewer opportunities it has to evolve,” said Lynfield.
- Prior to domestic airplane travel, get tested 1-3 days before trip. Upon return, restrict activities for 7 days and get tested 3-5 days after trip.
COVID-19 Vaccines Administered Update:
- 353,113 vaccine doses administered in Minnesota
- 90% of vaccine administered within state’s 3-day goal after vials arrive in Minnesota.
- 74,721 people age 65+ received one dose (Only 3,807 age 65+ completed series).
MDH Assistant Lab Director Sara Vetter:
- Viral variants are common, says Vetter. Sometimes, mutations change how virus spreads or causes disease.
- Variants also identified in South Africa and southern California. Appear to be taking over as dominant circulating strains.
- Pfizer and Moderna vaccines still have efficacy against these variants.
- Vaccines can also be updated to, like the flu vaccine.
MNIT Commissioner Tarek Tomes:
- Continues to encourage people age 65+ to register online for community vaccination clinics.
- Roughly 13,000 Minnesotans received vaccine through last week’s test concept.
- More than 180,000 people are, as of early this afternoon, pre-registered through the system.
Q&A Session and Notes
- As of this morning, hadn’t heard any updated vaccine dose numbers allocated to Minnesota from Biden Admistration. Malcolm did mention Moderna supply may be increasing incrementally. (The Biden Administration subsequently announced Tuesday that it will increase the supply of COVID-19 vaccine doses shipped to states by 16 percent over current levels for at least the next three weeks. Minnesota is expected to receive nearly 11,000 additional doses each week under the new allocation.)
- “Brooklyn Center, I think we can all agree on is a very diverse community and so we are happy to work with Hennepin County on identifying that site,” said Minnesota Department of Commerce Deputy Commissioner Anne O’Connor, when asked how the nine sites were chosen.
- State allocated 11,700 Pfizer vaccine doses this week for age 65+ community vaccine sites and 15,000 Moderna doses for educators and child care providers at Roy Wilkins Auditorium in St. Paul.
- Those who pre-registered for vaccine will begin finding out at 7 a.m. Wednesday if they were randomly selected this week.
- Per Tomes, those who did not get selected this week for vaccine, do NOT have to register again. They will remain on the waitlist with a chance to be randomly selected the following week.