Minnesota's reported positivity rate of COVID-19 testing has dropped to 3.4%, nearing a record low as vaccination progress reduces spread of the coronavirus that causes the infectious disease.

Wednesday marked the first day since last summer when four of five key pandemic measures dropped below Minnesota's high-risk thresholds — with the daily new infection rate declining to less than 10 per 100,000 people for the first time since July 8 and the hospitalization rate receding to levels last seen in March before the latest wave of viral spread.

State health officials said vaccination has limited transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus — with nearly 3 million Minnesotans 12 and older receiving at least some vaccine and more than 2.6 million of them completing the one- or two-dose series.

Children 12 to 15 only received access in mid-May to the Pfizer version of COVID-19 vaccine, and already 27% of them have received shots. Nearly 65% of Minnesotans 16 and older have received doses, bringing the state closer to its goal of vaccinating 70% of that population by July 1.

Roughly 2,000 new vaccine recipients applied online Tuesday for state vaccination incentives. About half opted for $25 Visa gift cards while free passes to Valleyfair, the Minnesota State Fair, and Minnesota State Parks also were popular. Incentives are available to 100,000 people who are newly vaccinated between May 27 and June 30.

Nearly 90% of senior citizens in Minnesota have received vaccine — a vulnerable group that has suffered 88% of the state's 7,427 COVID-19 deaths.

The state reported no COVID-19 deaths on Wednesday and only 128 more coronavirus infections — bringing the total of known infections in the pandemic to 601,645.

The latest positivity rate reflected tests in the seven days ending May 23. A key measure of viral spread in Minnesota, the rate had briefly reached a record low of 3.3% in mid-June last year.

Of five key pandemic measures, only the rate of unknown community transmissions is above the state's high-risk threshold. Roughly 45% of newly reported infections are coming from sources in communities that can't be identified through public health contact tracing efforts, making it harder to quarantine close contacts and limit further spread of the virus.

Outbreaks have dropped in key areas. Minnesota had been reporting more than 1,000 infections among pre-K-12 students per week in April, but that number dropped to around 600 in the week ending May 15.

Seven outbreaks in bars and restaurants were reported so far for the week ending May 29, down from 50 in the week ending April 10. The state defines such outbreaks as five unrelated people who suffer COVID-19 infections after only visiting one establishment in the past month.

Minneapolis and St. Paul lifted indoor mask ordinances this week, following the removal of a statewide mandate in mid-May. The state also lifted capacity caps and social distancing requirements on businesses last week, leaving Minnesota with almost no pandemic restrictions for the first time since last summer.

Health officials still advise that unvaccinated people wear masks and practice social distancing to reduce their risks of viral transmission, particularly with more infectious variants of the coronavirus circulating in Minnesota.

Jeremy Olson • 612-673-7744