Health Officials’ COVID Concerns Grow Over Youth Cases, U.K. Variant Proliferation

5April 2021

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The number of people getting vaccinated continues to climb in Minnesota, but state health officials are also concerned about a recent uptick in COVID-19 cases. The Minnesota Department of health estimates roughly half of the cases are the newer B117 variant first found in the U.K.

Health officials are particularly concerned about the new spreaders of the virus — children.

The health department showed COVID cases were above 2,000 for three days straight at the end of last week. Monday morning’s numbers did drop, but state officials say there was a a technical issue so not all of the cases were processed.

Less than a week after the state expanded vaccine eligibility to Minnesotans 16 and older, FEMA announced Monday that St. Paul will host a new federally run vaccination site. The Minnesota State Fairgrounds site will vaccinate over 100,000 people over eight weeks using Pfizer or Johnson & Johnson shots.

Health officials are working quickly to amp up vaccine supply as COVID cases have been climbing again.

“Our hospital right now has more patients than we’ve had since the middle part of the surge,” Dr. George Morris, with CentraCare, said.

Morris says 70% of their COVID hospital patients right now are below the age of 65.

MDH officials say there have been 752 schools with COVID cases, and they are concerned about the increase in spread among school age children and teens, particularly with the B117 variant that’s more contagious.

Dr. Michael Osterholm suggested Sunday that in-person learning in Minnesota may have to adjust.

“All of the things we had planned for in schools with kids are no longer applicable. We need to take a look at this issue,” he said.

Right now experts anticipate it could be late summer before children ages 12 to 15 could be getting a vaccine. Those under 18 account for more than one-fifth of the population in the U.S.

“The concern is what’s going to happen 3 to 6 months from now if we can’t get ahead of that spread. The mutation, the variant change, we’re going to fall farther and farther behind,” Morris said.

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Author: WCCO | CBS Minnesota

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