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The Free Press

MANKATO — Area counties combined for only five newly confirmed COVID-19 cases Tuesday.

It was the third straight time the south-central region had fewer than 10 new cases in the Minnesota Department of Health’s situation update. There was no update on Memorial Day.

The last time south-central Minnesota had three straight updates with fewer than 10 cases was in mid-June 2020.

As vaccine percentages rose statewide and regionwide this spring, case numbers have plummeted. Hospitalizations have dwindled as well.

About 53.4% of residents 16 and older in the region have been fully vaccinated as of Tuesday’s update. About 57.5% have received at least one dose.

Statewide, about 58.9% of residents 16 and older have completed their vaccinations. About 64.6% received at least one dose.

South-central Minnesota did end May with more COVID-19 deaths than April had, but both totals were still well below tolls from August 2020 to March 2021. May’s nine deaths were a slight rise from April’s seven, while no month between August 2020 and March 2021 had fewer than 13.

The five new cases in the region Tuesday were in five different counties. Four other counties, Nicollet, Le Sueur, Waseca, and Faribault, had no new cases.

The full list of new cases by county includes:

•Blue Earth County — 1

•Brown County — 1

•Watonwan County — 1

•Sibley County — 1

•Martin County — 1

About 160 students registered for vaccinations Tuesday at clinics set up at Prairie Winds Middle School in Mankato and Dakota Meadows Middle School in North Mankato, according to Mankato Area Public Schools Superintendent Paul Peterson.

The clinics were organized after Pfizer vaccine eligibility opened up to people age 12 and up. The timing comes just before the 2020-2021 school year wraps up Friday.

Peterson said area schools could host more clinics once the medical community deems vaccines safe for age groups younger than 12.

While visiting Prairie Winds to hear about the district’s free school meal programs Tuesday, Sen. Tina Smith said schools give students a comfortable, trusted place to get vaccinated.

“I think it’s an important contributor towards getting those vaccination rates up,” she said. “You know Minnesota is doing well compared to other parts of the country and a lot of it is this effort to get students vaccinated before the end of the school year.”

Follow Brian Arola @BrianArola

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