Key measures of the COVID-19 pandemic in Minnesota have declined after a brief post-holiday blip — with the positivity rate of diagnostic testing for the infectious disease dropping to 5.4%.

The Minnesota Department of Health on Tuesday reported six COVID-19 deaths — only the second daily count in the single digits since Nov. 2 — and 922 infections with the coronavirus that causes the respiratory disease. State totals in the pandemic are now 5,945 deaths and 448,268 diagnosed infections.

More than 200,000 people in Minnesota have received first doses of the two-doses Pfizer or Moderna vaccines for COVID-19, and at least 38,258 have completed the series.

The vaccination progress came on Tuesday as the state prepared to make doses available beyond the initial priority group of health care workers who are at elevated risk of infection and long-term care residents who have suffered 64% of Minnesota's COVID-19 deaths.

Limited doses are being provided by appointment only at nine sites later this week to people 65 and older. Educators and child-care workers also have limited access to vaccine through this expansion. Minnesota expected to receive roughly 60,000 more first doses of COVID-19 vaccine this week, and diverted 12,000 doses to this expansion group.

The state reported that 46.2% of its immediately available supply of 516,675 vaccine doses have been administered. The remainder includes doses still being shipped to the state, or already assigned to upcoming vaccination appointments.

Health officials had worried about another surge in viral transmission due to holiday gatherings, but that has tapered somewhat. The positivity rate of diagnostic testing had peaked at 15.5% in November, before declining to 4.7% on Dec. 24. It then rose to 7.5% in early January before declining again — mimicking a brief increase that occurred after Thanksgiving as well.

Hospitalizations also declined to their lowest levels since last fall. The 110 people with COVID-19 in intensive care beds in Minnesota hospitals on Monday was the lowest total since Sept. 29.

Jeremy Olson • 612-673-7744