ST. PAUL — The number of Minnesota schools reporting coronavirus outbreaks jumped 74% over last week with more than 400 school buildings reporting outbreaks to the state Department of Health.

Schools with COVID-19 cases have steadily grown since the academic year began. A month ago, just six buildings had reported five or more cases in students or staff.

Both Dakota and Washington counties have 19 buildings with outbreaks and Ramsey has 14 schools reporting outbreaks.

School-age children have the highest rate of new cases with the 10- to 14-year-old age group seeing a 10.7% positivity rate over the last week. School kids accounted for about 26% of the nearly 21,000 new infections recorded in the last week.

Most children are not eligible to be vaccinated. Those who are, age 12 and older, have some of the lowest rates of vaccination in the state with less than 60% receiving at least one dose.

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends masks be worn indoors in all of Minnesota’s 87 counties because community transmission of the coronavirus is so high. However, while there are virus mitigation recommendations from the state, there is no statewide mask mandate.

There were also 32 COVID-19 fatalities reported Thursday, Oct. 7. The latest deaths to be reported ranged in age from their early 30s to their early 90s with 21 residing in private homes and 11 in long-term care.

Eighteen of the deaths occurred in October, 13 in September and one in March. The death toll is 8,275 since the pandemic began with 4,668 fatalities in long-term care.

Cases in long-term care continue to grow even though almost 94% of seniors have gotten at least one dose of vaccine. There are 338 facilities where at least one resident or staff has tested positive, up from 309 a week ago.

Minnesota added new 2,674 coronavirus cases Thursday, the result of about 42,000 tests. There have been 732,001 infections diagnosed since the pandemic began in March 2020.

The rate of test positivity, new cases and hospitalizations continues to grow. There are 881 patients hospitalized including 234 in critical condition.

Parts of the state continue to experience hospital bed shortages, typically because of insufficient staff.

Health officials say the best way to avoid a severe illness and to slow the spread of COVID-19 is to get vaccinated. Breakthrough cases are on the rise, but about 99% of the 3.1 million fully vaccinated Minnesotans have not reported a breakthrough infection.

Minnesota has administered 6.4 million doses of vaccine and 3.4 million have gotten at least one shot. About 73% of eligible residents, age 12 and older, have gotten at least one shot.