Hospitalizations in Minnesota for COVID-19 dropped below 600 over the weekend, relieving pressure on the state's medical providers and offering further evidence that the latest pandemic wave has peaked.

The 576 COVID-19 hospitalizations in Minnesota on Sunday included 155 patients who needed intensive care because of breathing problems or other complications of the infectious disease. The latest hospital totals were reported Monday along with three more deaths and 1,105 more infections with the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

The additions raise Minnesota's pandemic totals to 7,163 deaths and 580,340 diagnosed infections.

Progress has slowed toward Minnesota's goal of providing COVID-19 vaccine to 80% of eligible people 16 and older.

Nearly 2.6 million people have received at least first doses — equating to 59% of the state's eligible population — and nearly 2 million of them have completed the one- or two-dose series. But a rolling seven-day average of daily doses administered in Minnesota has dropped from nearly 67,000 in the week ending April 11 to less than 50,000.

Health officials are encouraged that early vaccination progress in senior citizens — with 87% of Minnesotans 65 and older at least receiving a first dose — prevented an increase in COVID-19 deaths over the past month that matched the rise in infections and hospitalizations.

Senior citizens have suffered 89% of Minnesota's COVID-19 deaths.

COVID-19 hospitalizations in 2021 swung from a low of 210 on March 6 to 699 on April 14 back to the current level. Hospitals neared capacity during this latest wave but did not need to take the steps during prior waves last year of deferring or delaying non-urgent surgeries or procedures. The latest dashboard data showed that 1,106 of 1,208 intensive care beds in Minnesota — a rate of 91% — were filled Sunday by patients with COVID-19 or other unrelated medical issues.

The seven-day average positivity rate of COVID-19 diagnostic testing in Minnesota rose from 3.5% on March 3 to 7.5% on April 8 — indicating a significant increase in viral spread. The rate has since declined to 6.2%.

Signs of a decline in the latest COVID-19 wave emerged in Mayo Clinic's pandemic forecasting as well. The organization's 14-day outlook for Minnesota shows a more than 25% decline from 1,579 new infections per day in the state right now to 1,184 by May 15.

Jeremy Olson • 612-673-7744