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The Free Press

MANKATO — A COVID-19 death was confirmed Saturday in Waseca County. The resident was the south-central region’s 242st fatality linked to the illness during the pandemic.

The resident was between 80-84 years old, according to the Minnesota Department of Health. This is the 23rd death due to complications from COVID-19 in Waseca County. The county has had 2,326 confirmed COVID-19 cases during the pandemic.

The death was among nine fatalities linked to the illness statewide, raising Minnesota’s pandemic death toll to 7,363.

For newly confirmed cases Saturday, the regional count dipped into the teens. Case counts have been trending down in recent weeks.

Six area counties combined for 14 new cases. Faribault, Watonwan and Martin counties had no new cases. The full list of new cases by county includes:

• Blue Earth County — 6

• Le Sueur County — 1

• Waseca County — 1

• Sibley County — 2

• Nicollet County — 3

• Brown County — 1

Statewide, COVID-19 continues to decline after a surge last month. There were 525 newly confirmed cases in Minnesota on Saturday, a dip from about 800 cases a day earlier in the week. Active case counts and hospitalizations are also on a downward trend.

The decline in new COVID-19 cases comes as the vaccination pace continues to struggle for traction, raising concerns that hundreds of thousands of Minnesota adults might choose to go unvaccinated.

The state has recorded 598,327 total confirmed or probable cases so far in the pandemic. About 98% of Minnesotans known to be infected with COVID-19 in the pandemic have recovered to the point where they no longer need to isolate.

Officials continue to implore Minnesotans to keep their guard up during proms, graduations and other spring events, noting that more contagious COVID-19 variants are driving new cases across the state.

People in their 20s still make up the age bracket with the state’s largest number of confirmed cases — more than 110,000 since the pandemic began. The number of high school-age youth confirmed with the disease has also grown, with more than 49,000 15- to 19-year-olds known to be infected during the pandemic.

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