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The Free Press and MPR News

MANKATO — South-central Minnesota counties combined for 65 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, a jump from the previous two days.

The region had 37 and 39 new cases on Monday and Tuesday. Wednesday’s 65 new cases were the most in the region in a week, according to the Minnesota Department of Health.

Area counties again had no newly confirmed COVID deaths, continuing a stretch of days with no fatalities linked to the illness since Saturday.

Statewide, however, the health department confirmed another 34 COVID deaths. Minnesota’s pandemic death toll rose to 5,979.

Of the nine-county region’s 65 new cases confirmed Wednesday, 22 of them were in Blue Earth County. The next biggest daily uptick was in Martin County, which had nine new cases.

The full list of new cases in area counties includes:

• Blue Earth County — 22

• Martin County — 9

• Nicollet County — 8

• Waseca County — 8

• Faribault County — 8

• Le Sueur County — 5

• Brown County — 3

• Watonwan County — 1

• Sibley County — 1

Area counties have combined for 18,494 total COVID cases since the pandemic began.

The state’s latest COVID vaccination stats show 7,500 residents in the nine-county region received their first dose as of Sunday. Another 1,338 completed both doses.

More doses will be administered this week at a pilot clinic set up in North Mankato. Appointment slots quickly filled up once applications opened up at noon Tuesday.

As a whole, Minnesota’s latest COVID numbers continue to show the state is on an encouraging path, with key metrics improving or at least holding relatively steady.

State health officials Wednesday reported 1,237 newly confirmed or probable cases of the disease — along with 570 people in the hospital with COVID, 111 of them needing intensive care.

Two months ago, the number of known, active COVID cases in the state hovered around 50,000. Now, that count stands at 10,775 — the first time since mid-October that active cases were below 11,000.

While the trends look hopeful following an awful November and December — when new cases, hospitalizations and deaths spiked — public health leaders still caution that another surge, originating from year-end holiday gatherings, could arrive in the coming weeks.

The COVID cases reported Wednesday put Minnesota at 449,492 in the pandemic. Of those, about 96% have recovered to the point they no longer need to be isolated.

Follow Brian Arola @BrianArola

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