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COVID-19 in Minnesota is a 'rapidly expanding outbreak' as MDH reports thousands of new cases

State Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said everyone needs to recognize how serious this pandemic is and be more vigilant about protection.

The Minnesota Department of Health is reporting another 5,277 COVID-19 cases, and data shows the outbreak is rapidly expanding across the entire state.

In fact, this week, MDH is reporting so many new cases, at one point, the department didn't have enough staff to process them all at once.

Despite the back log, the cases are current and contributing to this latest surge.

"This is one of the faster growing periods of the pandemic so far in Minnesota," said Minnesota Public Radio reporter David Montgomery. "These are not cases from six months ago that are just happening and being reported."

Montgomery is the only MPR data reporter who has provided COVID updates every day for 20 months.

While case rates are rising across the state, he found they're twice as high in west-central Minnesota than in Hennepin and Ramsey Counties. It's a trend he thought had peaked in June and again in October, when cases did fall, only to grow again after a week. 

"It's been very frustrating and it just seems like it's never-ending," said Montgomery.

MDH says another factor is people's immunity may also be waning, especially if they got vaccinated more than six months ago.

RELATED: Live updates: MDH reports 43 new COVID deaths, 5,277 cases

State health commissioner, Jan Malcolm, is encouraging those who are eligible to get a booster shot.

"It does wane over time and we think that a lot of the breakthrough cases we're seeing in Minnesota, and other states are among people who were vaccinated the earliest," explained Malcolm.

More than 65% of people in the state are vaccinated, which can lessen the severity of illness. But MDH's data shows, no matter how messy, an undeniable picture of a rapidly growing outbreak.

"People are getting sick right now, people are getting hospitalized right now and people are dying right now," said Montgomery.

Data also shows areas with higher vaccination rates, like the metro and northeast and southeast parts of the state, have lower case rates. 

But still, the amount of virus has MDH concerned, especially as people are starting to think about holiday get-togethers. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention posted guidelines to safely celebrate that you can read by clicking here.

RELATED: Pfizer asks FDA to approve COVID-19 booster shots for all adults

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