MDH COVID-19 briefing: Little known about COVID variants, MDH continuing to monitor them

Josh Skluzacek
Updated: January 11, 2021 03:07 PM
Created: January 11, 2021 01:13 PM

Monday, Minnesota health officials provided the latest update on the state's COVID-19 situation and vaccination efforts.

Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm, Infectious Disease Director Kris Ehresmann and Assistant Director of the MDH Public Health Lab Sara Vetter touched on a number of topics, including COVID-19 variants.

On Saturday, MDH confirmed that five cases of the UK COVID-19 strain had been found in Minnesota. Those cases were in Hennepin, Dakota, Ramsey and Carver counties. However, Ehresmann said it's important to recognize that those strains are likely in other parts of the state, too, making it more important for Minnesotans to continue following health guidance to slow its spread.

5 cases of new COVID-19 strain found in Minnesota

That particular strain of the virus is known to spread more easily but doesn't cause more severe disease, Vetter said. That being said, little is known about the variant, so far, including its possible effects on children.

Vetter also mentioned that health officials are watching for a South Africa strain, too, but it's not believed that has made its way into the U.S. at this point.

Malcolm noted MDH is continually screening for new variants and will continue to do so.

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A couple of other notes from Monday's call:

  • Ehresmann said there was a delay in a file being uploaded to the MDH dashboard Monday, meaning about 9,000 test results with 558 positive cases didn't make it into Monday's upload. Those numbers represented both new and repeat COVID-19 cases. Ehresmann said that data will be included in Tuesday's data.
  • Malcolm said more than 4,000 Minnesotans have released their codes notifying others of possible exposures through the COVIDaware MN app. MDH officials called it a helpful tool in combatting the spread of COVID-19 in the state.
  • Hospital admittance numbers remain stable in the state. Officials are still expecting a small surge in cases and possibly hospital admittance numbers from holiday gatherings.
  • 4 new COVID-19 deaths, 980 new cases reported by MDH


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