ST. PAUL — A statewide surge in COVID-19 infections has shown signs of stabilizing in the last two weeks, according to Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm.

Totals of between 10,000 to 12,000 cases of the disease, which is caused by the novel coronavirus, have lately been reported in the state each week, Malcom said Thursday, April 22, "which translates to very many people with severe disease needing hospital care, and many people developing on COVID with ongoing health consequences of unknown implications for their future health."

"But it's not the exponential rate of growth that we saw in the late fall," she said during a news conference.

Malcolm and other state health officials during Thursday's conference, which was conducted by telephone, said that COVID-19 variants remain a cause for concern and encouraged the vaccination of youths ages 16 and older. Because the vaccine has not been approved for younger children, they said, middle and high schools should test their students every two weeks for the disease.

Dr. Heather Mueller, the state's education commissioner, said the state is offering test materials to schools and organized youth sports, which have been linked to COVID outbreaks, to support the two-week testing goal.

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"Now more than ever, especially if vaccines are not yet available for all students, we need to double down on testing," Mueller said.

Officials on Thursday also announced that face masks will be optional for youth sports held outdoors, though athletes are still being asked to wear them when sitting on the sidelines. They remain a requirement for indoor sports, however.

Following are the Minnesota Department of Health COVID-19 case rates, deaths, hospitalizations and vaccinations as of Thursday, April 22. Because all data is preliminary, some numbers and totals may change from one day to the next.

Statewide case rates

  • NEW CASES: 1,973
  • SEVEN-DAY, ROLLING AVERAGE OF NEW CASES PER 100,000 PEOPLE: 37 (As of April 13)

  • TOTAL CASES: 562,420
  • TOTAL RECOVERED: 538,450
  • SEVEN-DAY, ROLLING AVERAGE TEST POSITIVITY RATE: 7.3% (As of April 13)

Hospitalizations, deaths

  • ACTIVE HOSPITALIZATIONS: 683

  • TOTAL HOSPITALIZATIONS: 29,477

  • DEATHS, NEWLY REPORTED: 10

  • TOTAL DEATHS: 7,054

Vaccinations

  • FIRST DOSE ADMINISTERED: 2,349,678 people, or 53.3% of the state population

  • COMPLETED SERIES (2 DOSES): 1,674,747, or 38% of the state population

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