COVID-19 and influenza cases, hospitalizations on rise – Mankato Free Press

Cloudy skies. Areas of freezing fog. Temps nearly steady in the low to mid 30s. Winds SE at 15 to 25 mph..
Cloudy skies with periods of rain late. Some mixed winter precipitation possible. Low 31F. Winds SE at 15 to 25 mph. Chance of rain 70%.
Updated: December 12, 2022 @ 8:09 am

MANKATO — Area counties had a sharp rise in new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations to start this month, while influenza continues to soar statewide.
South-central Minnesota’s nine counties combined for 231 newly confirmed cases between Nov. 27-Dec. 3, up 52% from the previous week, according to new data from the Minnesota Department of Health. The rise was the region’s biggest percentage uptick in cases since January.
While confirmed cases are still lower now than they were a year ago, the state is also having to contend with a severe early influenza season for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
Minnesota already has more than two times more flu hospitalizations — 1,857 — in this season’s first eight weeks than it did during the entire 2021-2022 season — 901. The state’s spike includes 47 flu hospitalizations in south-central Minnesota, 26 of them in the last reporting week.
Meanwhile, the south-central region’s COVID-19 hospitalizations rose from 13 to 26 over the last two reporting weeks. Wastewater data, a key indicator for how much COVID-19 is found in specimens in the region, also showed rising trends in cases and hospitalizations.
The metrics are strong signs of the region being in the latest wave of the pandemic, said Derek J. Wingert, a local COVID-19 data analyst.
“There was a meaningful increase this week and it appears to be supported by the underlying trends in wastewater in such a way that there might be more of this to come,” he said.
COVID-19 levels in wastewater doubled over the last month in south-central Minnesota, according to the University of Minnesota’s surveillance study.
Previous waves showed nearly all age groups were at increased risk for COVID-19 deaths More recently, the mortality rates for people age 65 and older have steadily risen since the spring while the risk to younger age groups remained relatively flat in comparison.
Just as with COVID-19, older Minnesotans and unvaccinated Minnesotans are particularly vulnerable to severe influenza cases. The latest flu data shows the median age for deaths so far this season is 79 years old.
Medical officials continue to urge Americans to get vaccinated against both illnesses. The state health department put out a release Friday alerting people to places to get the updated bivalent COVID-19 booster vaccines in the Mankato area.
Minnesotans age 5 and older are eligible for the boosters.
“In Mankato, there are several locations where people can receive their bivalent boosters,” the release stated. “All Mankato area Walgreens pharmacies are offering the updated vaccine, as well as Cub Foods pharmacies, Hy-Vee pharmacies, Sam’s Club pharmacy, Walmart pharmacy, Thrifty White Pharmacy, Mayo Clinic and Open Door Health Clinic. Vaccines are administered at no cost to the patient regardless of insurance status.”
Follow Brian Arola @BrianArola

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