Young Minnesotans are experiencing the highest COVID-19 case growth rates, with new infections jumping 9% this month in 10- to 14-year-olds.

Minnesota health officials said that the more highly infectious COVID-19 variants are contributing to the growth, contributing to spread in places where children and adolescents gather.

Altogether, new cases are up 7.4% since March 1 in those younger than age 20 compared with a 5.2% increase among all age groups.

Minnesota added another 1,857 new COVID-19 cases Thursday, including 443 newly diagnosed infections in those under age 20.

Another 16 deaths were reported by state health officials, including 10 who were residents of long-term care facilities.

Since the pandemic began in the state more than one year ago, 510,398 residents have tested positive for the coronavirus that causes the disease and 6,814 have died.

The number of new cases announced each day has slowly begun to increase and state health officials said they are monitoring outbreaks in several counties.

"We are at a pivotal point in this pandemic where trends can change quickly," Minnesota Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said.

School students and their families are encouraged to get tested every two weeks, while those who participate in youth sports are asked to take a test weekly.

Diagnostic testing labs reported 40,859 test results to the state on Wednesday, up from the 25,740 reported the previous day.

About 26.5% of state residents, or 1,475,130 people, have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose. Of those, 878,469 have completed the recommended vaccine series.

Glenn Howatt • 612-673-7192