MDH COVID-19 briefing: 16 cases of UK variant, 2nd case of Brazil variant found in Minnesota

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During the state’s regular COVID-19 briefing Thursday, Minnesota Department of Health officials provided an update on the situation regarding new coronavirus variants that have been found in the state.

According to Dr. Ruth Lynfield, with MDH, it is believed that 16 cases of the U.K. variant have now been found in Minnesota. She says seven of those cases were connected to domestic travel while four cases have been connected to international travel.

A second case of the Brazil variant has also been found in the state. According to Lynfield, the second case was found in a person who is a household contact with the original case in the state.

“It underscores the need for continued vigilance,” Lynfield said.

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Lynfield did applaud MDH’s partners who have been helping track the variants.

“One of the reasons we are able to detect those variants of concern in Minnesota so quickly is that we have one of the best public health laboratory surveillance systems in the states,” she said.

Health officials also took time to discuss the continued vaccine rollout in the state.

According to Kris Ehresmann, an infectious disease expert with MDH, the state will receive 83,825 vaccine doses next week.

The doses will be distributed in the following manner:

  • 3,000 doses will go to tribal governments,
  • 7,000 doses will be allocated for those 65 years old and older,
  • 10,000 doses will go to educators,
  • 39,000 doses will go to health care facilities,
  • 14,000 will go to local public health partners,
  • 4,000 will go to pharmacy partners,
  • 5,000 will go to the Department of Human Services for group home settings.

MDH officials were also asked about a statement by Dr. Michael Osterholm, a University of Minnesota infectious disease expert, who believes second doses of vaccines should be delayed so more people can receive vaccines as new variants of the coronavirus emerge.

MDH Commissioner Jan Malcolm said conversations surrounding that need to take place at the federal level.

“The most recent things we’ve heard from the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] is they are still believing it is useful to follow the data from the clinical trials for the two first vaccines,” she said. “But I know there is a lot of discussion and close analysis of the data going on really weighing the full benefit of the full two doses versus this being one way to speed up the ability to get through a larger part of the population faster.”

Ehresmann echoed Malcolm’s statement.

“We’re grateful the conversations are being held and we will wait to see and hear what they have to say, what the determination is for what would be best for Minnesotans and for people across the country,” she said.