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St. Paul, MN (KROC-AM News) - The number of coronavirus-related deaths reported today by state health officials was the lowest daily death count attributed to the pandemic since October 12th.

The Minnesota Department of Health today reported only 3 coronavirus-related deaths statewide. The number of new cases reported in Minnesota today was just under 800 with 50 of the new infections found in Olmsted County. The testing today from Sunday was a little over 19,200 and the daily testing positivity rate remained around or below 4 percent a fifth straight day at about 4.1 percent.

A new variant of the COVID-19 virus has been detected in Minnesota. The State Health Department says it is the first time the Brazil P.1 variant has been found in the United States. It was detected in a specimen from a Minnesota resident who recently returned home to the Twin Cities after traveling to Brazil. Officials say the variant is thought to be more transmissible than the original COVID-19 strain but whether or not it causes a more severe illness has yet to be determined. Minnesota recently saw its first case of the so-called UK variant and has now detected 8 cases of the viral illness that were caused by that mutation of the virus.

Governor Tim Walz today announced new goals aimed at speeding up Minnesota’s overall COVID-19 vaccination program. The state wants all vaccine providers to administer 90 percent of the doses they receive within 72 hours of the arrival of the shipment and reach 100 percent within 7 days. The health department says just over 70 percent of the vaccine doses shipped to Minnesota are being administered with 72 hours and 90 percent of the doses are used within 7 days.

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