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The Free Press and MPR News

The number of known cases of COVID-19 surpassed 20,000 in south-central Minnesota on Saturday while vaccinations topped 30,000.

The Minnesota Department of Health announced 42 more confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the nine-county Free Press coverage area Saturday. That brings the region’s total since the start of the pandemic to 20,001.

New vaccination data released by the state Saturday meanwhile shows that over 30,000 local residents have now received at least the first dose of a coronavirus vaccine.

After falling then flattening following a late January surge, Minnesota’s COVID-19 vaccination pace continued to slowly rebound on Saturday, as overall pandemic trends remain encouraging.

State health officials reported over 43,000 vaccine doses administered — the third-greatest daily total so far. Averaged over the past week, the pace of vaccinations ticked upward and is at its greatest point since Feb. 2.

But that reflects data through Thursday — and may not yet account for the effects of the past week’s winter storms in the southern and eastern U.S.

The Health Department earlier this week warned the cold snap gripping the nation would delay vaccine shipments to Minnesota, potentially depressing vaccination counts in the short-term.

Local health officials told The Free Press Friday that hundreds of doses intended for south-central Minnesota had been delayed.

The total number of vaccine does administered across Minnesota now stands at nearly 1.06 million. More than 13% of Minnesotans have now received at least one dose. More than 40% of Minnesotans age 65 and older are now at least partially vaccinated.

All of the 11 additional deaths attributed to the coronavirus in Minnesota on Saturday were people age 60 or older. The seven-day rolling average for deaths is below eight deaths per day, the lowest since September.

There were no deaths in south-central Minnesota and only one death occurred in the region over the past week.

Across Minnesota there were 884 new confirmed or probable cases of the virus.

The number of new cases reported in local counties were:

• Blue Earth County — 9

• Brown County — 7

• Nicollet County — 6

• Watonwan County — 5

• Martin County — 4

• Waseca County — 3

• Faribault County — 3

• Le Sueur County — 2

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