ST. CLOUD — Two and a half years ago, no one could have predicted what the world would look like in a global pandemic.
Over the course of two weeks after the first case of COVID-19 was recorded in Minnesota in March 2020, life as we knew it essentially stopped. Businesses, restaurants, gyms and schools shut down, as did other places where people gathered and spent time together.
International borders closed and flights were canceled. And two months later, more than 100,000 people in the United States were reported dead from COVID-19 complications.
Minnesotans rolled up their sleeves to get vaccinated against the coronavirus in 2021, and schools and businesses opened their doors again. Graduations, weddings and proms in St. Cloud took place in-person, although some looked different than they used to.
As vaccinations stagnated, unvaccinated residents filled hospital wards that exceeded 130% capacity last winter as the omicron variant circulated the globe.
Although the Minnesota Department of Health doesn’t track COVID-19 deaths based on strains of COVID-19, death data shows that more people in their 50s and 60s died of COVID-19 in St. Cloud during the time of the omicron surge than during the previous delta surge.
As of Friday, 12,559 people were reported to have died due to COVID-19 complications in Minnesota.
Black, Indigenous and people of color died at disproportionate rates from the virus, and a total of 723 people died of COVID-19 in the St. Cloud area.
Now, as the United States has eclipsed more than 1 million COVID-19 deaths, it’s a time to reflect on how the pandemic took shape in Minnesota since it arrived in March 2020.
A timeline of COVID-19 in Minnesota
- Jan. 21, 2020: First COVID-19 case is reported in the United States
- March 6, 2020: First COVID-19 case reported in Minnesota
- March 11, 2020: World Health Organization classifies COVID-19 as a global pandemic
- March 12 2020: First COVID-19 case reported in Stearns County
- March 13, 2020: Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz declares a peacetime emergency in response to the pandemic
- March 16, 2020: Minnesota’s K-12 public schools close and prepare for distance learning
- March 17, 2020: Bars, restaurants, theaters, gyms and other public places close across the state by executive order
- March 21, 2020: First Minnesotan dies due to COVID-19 complications
- March 21, 2020: Canada-U.S. border closes to all nonessential travel
- March 25, 2020: Walz issues the first stay-at-home order and extends executive order to close bars and restaurants
- May 1, 2020: St. Cloud area records first COVID-19 death
- May 28, 2020: U.S. COVID-19 death toll surpasses 100,000
- May 30, 2020: Minnesota COVID-19 death toll exceeds 1,000
- July 20, 2020: St. Cloud City Council institutes a mask mandate
- Sept. 22, 2020: U.S. death toll reaches 200,000
- Sept. 26, 2020: Minnesota death toll exceeds 2,000
- Nov. 3, 2020: A record number of Minnesotans cast absentee ballots in the election
- Nov. 18, 2020: Walz announces second round of closures for bars, restaurants, gyms and social gatherings beginning Nov. 20, 2020
- Nov. 30, 2020: The St. Cloud school district returned to distance learning due to COVID-19 related staffing shortages.
- Dec. 9, 2020: Minnesota’s COVID-19 death toll exceeds 4,000
- Dec. 10, 2020: St. Cloud Hospital’s intensive care unit has reached or exceeded its usual capacity for multiple weeks
- Dec. 11, 2020: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration grants an emergency use authorization for Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine
- Dec. 17, 2020: CentraCare administers the first doses of COVID-19 vaccines in Central Minnesota
- Dec. 18, 2020: The FDA grants emergency use authorization for Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine
- Dec. 28, 2020: Minnesota’s death toll exceeds 5,000
- Jan. 4, 2021: Stearns County and Sherburne County public health departments begin administering vaccines to first responders and assisting in long-term care vaccinations
- Jan. 6, 2021: Walz announces restaurants and bars will be open for indoor service the following week
- Jan. 11, 2021: New daily state COVID-19 cases dip below 1,000 in Minnesota, the lowest since Dec. 29, 2020
- Jan. 19, 2021: U.S. death toll reaches 400,000
- Jan. 19, 2021: Residents 65 and older become eligible for the vaccine and the Minnesota COVID-19 vaccine appointment system experiences technical difficulties as demand outpaces capacity
- Jan. 21, 2021: Minnesota’s death toll exceeds 6,000
- Feb 3, 2021: St. Cloud school district announces secondary students will return to full in-person learning March 10
- Feb. 8, 2021: All grades in the Sartell-St. Stephen school district return to classrooms full-time for the first time since school closures spring 2020
- Feb. 19, 2021: More than 1 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered in the state
- March 3, 2021: The first doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine arrive in Minnesota
- March 4, 2021: CentraCare opens online scheduling for COVID-19 vaccine appointments for priority patients, including adults 65 and older
- March 9, 2021: Minnesota reaches 70% vaccination in seniors, eligibility expands to people with underlying health conditions and at risk of workplace exposure
- March 26, 2021: Walz announces all Minnesotans age 16 and up will be eligible for the vaccine starting next week
- April 19, 2021: Younger patients, 70% under 65, fill CentraCare intensive care unit and worry physicians
- May 6, 2021: Gov. Walz announces three-step plan to end Minnesota’s COVID-19 restrictions by July 1
- May 10, 2021: FDA approves Pfizer-BioTech vaccine for individuals ages 12-15
- May 14, 2021: Following CDC guidelines, Walz ends Minnesota mask mandate, which was first imposed July 22, 2020
- May 28, 2021: Restrictions on capacity and social distancing requirements for all events are lifted in Minnesota
- June 15, 2021: Minnesota’s new daily COVID cases drop below 100 for the first time since April 2020
- June 16, 2021: More than 3 million Minnesotans had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine
- July 1, 2021: State mask mandate is lifted on all events, outdoor or indoor
- July 17, 2021: About 50% of residents 12 and older in St. Cloud are vaccinated
- July 27, 2021: CDC updates guidance on increased need for COVID-19 vaccination and recommendations for everyone in areas of substantial or high transmission to wear a mask in public, indoor places, even if fully vaccinated
- Aug. 6, 2021: Delta variant of COVID-19 is identified as the predominant strain of COVID-19 in the U.S. by the CDC
- Aug. 6, 2021: COVID hospitalizations, ICU rates up at St. Cloud Hospital, most of those patients are unvaccinated
- Aug. 11, 2021: Minnesota requires COVID-19 shots or weekly testing for state workers
- Aug. 12, 2021: Minnesota hits milestone of vaccinating 70% of its population age 16 and older with at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine
- Aug. 12, 2021: Hundreds protest vaccine mandates outside St. Cloud Hospital
- Aug. 18, 2021: CentraCare, one of the largest employers in the area, requires staff to get COVID-19 vaccine by Dec. 15
- Aug. 23, 2021: FDA approves Pfizer vaccine for individuals 16 and up
- Sept. 9, 2021: St. Cloud area schools return to in-person classes for the fall
- Sept. 22, 2021: FDA expands emergency use of Pfizer booster
- Sept. 24, 2021: St. Cloud Hospital expands ICU, delays care amid influx of unvaccinated patients
- Oct. 7, 2021: Delta variant strains hospital resources, pediatric care in Minnesota
- Oct. 20, 2021: FDA authorizes booster shots for Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines
- Oct. 21, 2021: Studies show unvaccinated Minnesotans 30 times more likely to die from COVID-19 than vaccinated Minnesotans
- Oct. 29, 2021: FDA authorizes Pfizer vaccine for children ages 5-11
- Nov. 1, 2021: Global COVID-19 death toll exceeds 5 million
- Nov. 6, 2021: CentraCare begins offering vaccines for children 5-11
- Nov. 11, 2021: Health officials warn waning immunity after early vaccinations fueling longer COVID-19 wave in Minnesota
- Nov. 16, 2021: Minnesota ranks worst in the nation for “blizzard” of new COVID-19 cases
- Nov. 16, 2021: Department of Health announces booster shots will be available to all Minnesota adults by end of week
- Nov. 29, 2021: Federal medical response team comes to St. Cloud to assist health care providers in surge
- Dec. 2, 2021: Omicron variant first confirmed in Minnesota
- Dec. 7, 2021: State at 98% occupancy rate in hospital intensive care units, highest level yet in pandemic
- Dec. 9, 2021: FDA expands eligibility to Pfizer boosters to 16 and 17-year-olds
- Dec. 15, 2021: Minnesota tops 10,000 COVID deaths, St. Cloud Hospital reaches ICU capacity
- Dec. 22, 2021: Omicron variant becomes the dominant COVID strain
- Dec. 27, 2021: CDC updates guidance and shortens recommended COVID-19 isolation and quarantine period for the general population
- Dec. 28, 2021: Minnesota reports 1 million COVID-19 cases during the pandemic
- Jan. 4, 2022: FDA recommends Pfizer booster for those 5 months and older
- Jan. 6, 2022: Children ages 12-17 eligible for COVID-19 Pfizer booster
- Jan. 7, 2022: Omicron variant circulates “like wildfire” in Central Minnesota, resulting in full hospitals and workforce issues
- Jan. 12, 2022: Central Minnesota officials decline CentraCare’s request for a six-week mask mandate
- Jan. 18, 2022: One-fourth of all CentraCare patients have COVID-19 and ICU and critical care beds are well above capacity
- Jan. 24, 2022: Proposed temporary city mask mandate divides St. Cloud City Council
- Jan. 31, 2022: FDA officially approves Moderna vaccine for individuals 18 and older
- Feb. 3, 2022: Omicron peak begins declining in St. Cloud
- Feb. 23, 2022: Minnesota surpasses 12,000 deaths
- Feb. 25, 2022: Centers for Disease Control updates mask guidance based on community risk
- March 6, 2022: Long-term effects of COVID-19 weigh on some older adults
- March 7, 2022: Global COVID-19 deaths surpass 6 million
- March 11, 2022: COVID cases continue to drop in St. Cloud thanks to “hard-earned” herd immunity
- March 29, 2022: B.A.2 or “stealth” strain of the omicron variant becomes predominate COVID-19 strain in the United States
- March 29, 2022: FDA authorizes second booster dose of Pfizer or Moderna for people ages 50-plus and certain immunocompromised people
- April 15, 2022: Minnesota reports no COVID-19 deaths in the St. Cloud area for the first week since the early stages of the pandemic
- May 12, 2022: President Joe Biden announces 1 million COVID-19 deaths in the United States
Weekly COVID-19 update in St. Cloud area
One person in their late 70s died in Stearns County this week, and there were 607 new cases of COVID-19 in St. Cloud reported to the state, up from 417 new cases the week before.
Stearns County reported 346 new cases, Sherburne County reported 160 new cases and Benton County reported 101 new cases, according to the Minnesota Department of Health. Thirty-four additional people in the state reportedly died due to COVID-19 complications.
In St. Cloud, a total of 368 people have died in Stearns County, 181 people have died in Sherburne County and 174 people have died in Benton County.
More than 3.9 million people have gotten at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine in Minnesota. In St. Cloud that includes:
- 61% of residents 5 and older in Stearns County.
- 58.6% of residents 5 and older in Sherburne County.
- 57.5% of residents 5 and older in Benton County.
Worldwide, there have been more than 11.4 billion doses of the vaccine administered, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University.
Globally, more than 6.2 million people have died of COVID-19 complications.
Find a vaccine clinic near you at https://mn.gov/covid19/vaccine/find-vaccine/index.jsp.
Becca Most is a cities reporter with the St. Cloud Times. Reach her at 320-241-8213 or email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter at @becca_most.
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