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Minnesota's influenza season continues to worsen as the latest figures from the Department of Health shows another spike in hospitalizations and school outbreaks.

According to the update for the week ending Nov. 12, there were 243 flu-related hospitalizations during that period, up from 120 in the week before.

The chart released by the department shows that Minnesota's flu season has started much earlier than usual, and the spike in serious cases is on a similar to trajectory to the worst flu season of recent years, in 2017-18 when more than 6,600 were hospitalized and 440 died.

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So far, there have been five confirmed flu deaths in Minnesota.

The flu is also taking a major toll on Minnesota schools. The latest data shows that there were 195 new school outbreaks in the week ending Nov. 12.

A school is considered as having a flu outbreak when the number of students out with an influenza-like illness reaches 5% of the student population.

In the week ending Nov. 5, there were 97 outbreaks reported in schools, so last week marks another escalation at a time when pediatric hospital capacity is already stretched incredibly thin.

This flu season already worse for school outbreaks than any of the previous five years.

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There is likely to be worse to come, with the Centers for Disease Control update for the week ending Nov. 5 (so, a week earlier than the charts above) showing the worst of the flu outbreaks were happening in the southern half of the country.

The CDC estimates there have been 23,000 flu hospitalizations and 1,300 deaths so far this season.

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Thus far, there has not been a similar spike in the number of COVID-19 cases in Minnesota. That said, wastewater data suggests a rise in cases is likely on the way, albeit not showing signs yet of the huge spikes seen in winter 2020 and 2021.

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