ST. PAUL — With the release of new state-level data on COVID-19 Thursday, Dec. 31, health officials confirmed that at least 5,323 Minnesotans died of the disease in 2020.

The true number of COVID-19 deaths for the year may change as state health officials confirm additional instances of them. But the preliminary data released on the final day of the year already show that it was a deadly one.

Minnesota reported its 5,000th COVID-19 death only one week earlier. Sixty-one newly reported deaths attributed to the disease caused by the novel coronavirus were announced Thursday, half of which occurred outside the Twin Cities area.

The state is finishing the year with a better outlook than it had in November, however, when infections surged and Minnesota health care facilities were pushed near to their limits. The pandemic situation has improved since then by several measures.

On Thursday, health officials reported an additional 2,204 cases of COVID-19. According to Minnesota Department of Health figures, the state's share of COVID-19 tests that came back positive stood at around 5% on the most recent week for which data were available.

Newsletter signup for email alerts

The number of tests taken each week has decreased slightly from November but several hundred thousand tests are still being conducted each week. Higher positivity rates of between 7% and 10%, meanwhile, have been reported in some counties in the metro area, as well as in central, southwest and northwest Minnesota.

According to a weekly health department report released Thursday, the rolling seven-day average of new COVID-19 cases and new hospitalizations attributed to the disease are also on the decline.

More doses of the vaccine for COVID-19 are being administered in Minnesota as well. Health officials caution that their supplies are limited, though, and that health care workers and assisted living facility residents are being prioritized for them. Residents of nursing homes and other assisted living facility residents are at a particular risk of death from the disease.

Two doses of the vaccine need to be administered in order for it to be effective. As of Thursday, 44,638 doses of the vaccine have been administered.

As a public service, we’ve opened this article to everyone regardless of subscription status. If this coverage is important to you, please consider supporting local journalism by clicking on the subscribe button in the upper right-hand corner of the homepage.

  • Minnesota Department of Health COVID-19 hotline: 651-201-3920.
  • COVID-19 discrimination hotline: 833-454-0148
  • Minnesota Department of Health COVID-19 website: Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) website.