Winter brings cold and snow, and rising levels of cases of COVID-19 in Minnesota

January not only brought a blast of cold to Minnesota, it also brought our annual rise in respiratory illnesses. It […]

COVID-19 virus

January not only brought a blast of cold to Minnesota, it also brought our annual rise in respiratory illnesses. It is historically the worst month for respiratory illnesses.

The advent of COVID-19 and its variants creates increased risk. 

Still, many people have gone without vaccines or boosters. State health official report that as of mid-January, 1,086,006 people were up to date on their vaccines. 

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) works in partnership with communities to provide safe and free on-site COVID-19 vaccines. COVID-19 vaccines continue to be very good at preventing severe disease, hospitalization, and death. Make sure everyone is up to date on any COVID-19 vaccine doses, to have the best protection against COVID-19.  

Check for vaccine appointments using Vaccines.gov, where it’s easy to search for appointment by vaccine type. Look for Pfizer vaccine, Moderna vaccine, Novavax vaccine.  

It’s also easy to find locations in one’s home area. 

Also, contact a primary health care provider or a local pharmacy for vaccine information. 

To locate a community vaccination event near you, call the MDH COVID-19 public hotline at 1-833-431-2053 Monday, Wednesday, Friday: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Tuesday, Thursday: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. 

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that COVID-19 leads the pack when it comes to respirator virus-related hospitalizations. At one point in January almost 40 states had reported high or very levels of respiratory illnesses with coughs, fevers and other symptoms.

But only 17 percent of those eligible for the latest COVID-19 vaccine have gotten the latest protection against the virus. It provides protection against the JN.1 variant, the dominant virus at this time. 

Health officials remind everyone who hasn’t done so to get a COVID-19 vaccine, as well as a flu shot. People ages 60 and up should also get an RSV vaccine. 

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) has been keeping cumulative statistics on COVID-19 since January 20, 2020. As of deadline for this issue of Access Press, they are: 

*Total positive including reinfections: 1,879,816 
*Total deaths: 15,610 
*Total cases requiring hospitalization: 93,911 
*Total cases hospitalized in ICU: 15,557 

Information on COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, deaths are updated weekly on Situation Update for COVID-19.

The page also includes a map of counties with confirmed cases, data by race/ethnicity, and more information. 

This total reflects only the results from laboratory testing. There are more cases in Minnesota, and the virus is circulating in communities. It is important for everyone to take steps to protect themselves and others through vaccination, testing, staying home when sick, and more. 

The Minnesota Reformer website recently posted a story about U.DS. Sen, Tina Smith (DFL-Minnesota) and her efforts to get federal support to research long COVID-19 during a hearing that highlighted patients suffering from the diagnosis as well as experts studying its impacts. 

Smith criticized health insurance companies for not better providing for long COVID patients. 

“I often feel that our insurance companies are designed to figure out how to deny care rather than provide care,” Smith said. “And I think these stories illustrate what that means for people living with long COVID.” 

The Health Education Labor and Pensions Committee broke up the hearing into two panels. 

The first featured three patients speaking about their struggles getting diagnosed, finding the right providers and then finding medications or treatments that can actually help them address their symptoms. 

They also detailed the challenges they’ve faced with private health insurance companies and Medicaid as well as the mounting costs of treatment. 

Rachel Beale, a long COVID patient who lives in Southampton County, Virginia, told senators the disease forced her to leave her career as a human resources director at a community college. 

The ongoing symptoms of extreme fatigue, chronic pain and neurological issues, among others, still hamper her ability to function normally or plan for family events, she testified. 

“I’ve been sick for almost three years and it feels like there hasn’t been much progress with long COVID research,” Beale said. “I hope that Congress can help with that to move the research forward. But for now, I’m trying to make peace with my situation.” 

Beale spoke about how her application for Social Security Disability Insurance has been denied twice, though because the agency isn’t required to tell her why, she doesn’t know if she’ll ever be able to access the program. 

Read the entire news story at Patients struck by long COVID plead with U.S. Senate panel for more research funding.  The story is provided under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. 

Access Press provides coverage of COVID-19 through a grant from  the Minnesota Department of Health. 

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