The Free Press

MANKATO — COVID-19 cases remained very low Friday as the state reported just four new cases in the local nine-county region.

There were no additional deaths locally.

Brown, Faribault, Le Sueur and Sibley counties each recorded one case.

On Thursday there were also just four cases reported locally, but there was one COVID-related death in Blue Earth County.

Friday’s COVID-19 numbers show some of Minnesota’s key disease indicators at or near their lowest levels since the earliest months of the pandemic. Fewer than 200 people are hospitalized now with the disease.

The vaccination pace, though, continues to crawl, and the state is showing some big regional divides in vaccination rates.

Overall, the basic numbers around the pandemic remain encouraging.

The state’s averaged 199 new cases a day over the past seven reporting days — the first time it’s fallen below 200 since April 2020. Five weeks ago, it topped 1,500 a day.

The newest count of known, active COVID-19 cases came in at 1,659, hovering at April 2020 levels. Minnesota had more than 15,000 such cases on May 1. At one point in November, it topped 50,000.

The Health Department reported 184 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Minnesota, with 49 in intensive care. Both figures continue to slide from their spring peaks. In late April, hospitalizations were approaching 700 people, with more than 200 in ICUs.

ICU admissions are trending at their lowest levels since near the start of the pandemic.

Twelve newly reported deaths on Friday put Minnesota’s pandemic toll at 7,496. Among those who have died, about 59 percent had been living in long-term care or assisted-living facilities; most had underlying health problems.

The state has recorded 603,466 total confirmed or probable cases so far in the pandemic, including the 177 posted Friday.

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