Skip to main content

Flu season has begun in Minnesota

It's unclear how precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 will impact flu season this year.
flu shot, vaccine

Health officials are encouraging everyone over the age of 6 months to get a flu shot this year.

Flu season has officially begun in Minnesota, but unlike previous years this flu season is coinciding with a surge in COVID-19 cases. 

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) on Thursday released its first Weekly Influenza and Respiratory Illness Activity Report of the season, ending for the week of Oct. 17, which says there have been two hospitalizations (one in central Minnesota and one in the metro) and one school outbreak related to influenza to date. 

In the entire 2019-2020 influenza season in Minnesota, 4,022 people were hospitalized with lab-confirmed influenza, 197 influenza-associated deaths were reported, three pediatric influenza-related deaths were confirmed, 109 outbreaks of influenza were reported in long-term care facilities and 921 outbreaks of influenza-like illness were reported in schools.

In comparison, COVID-19 has killed 2,301 people and has sent 9,226 people to the hospital (2,485 hospitalized in the ICU) in Minnesota since March.

As it is quite early in the flu season, influenza activity in Minnesota and nationally remains low, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which also tracks influenza. 

It's unclear what the influenza season will be like this year, but the CDC and other public health officials believe it's likely the flu and COVID-19 – both upper respiratory illnesses with similar symptoms – will be spreading this fall and winter. Health officials also say that it's possible to get the flu and COVID-19 at the same time, although it's unclear how common this is.

With the flu circulating as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are surging, it could overwhelm the health care system. MDH's website says thousands of Minnesotans are hospitalized each year with the flu, but because hospitals are already busy treating people with COVID-19, people need to take extra care to prevent the spread of both illnesses. 

Follow Bring Me The News on News Break

The CDC recommends everyone who is 6 months and older get a flu vaccine by the end of October, which can help protect against influenza. 

Other steps people can take – such as staying home when you're sick, covering your cough, washing your hands, cleaning frequently touched surfaces, wearing a mask and staying 6 feet from others – will help prevent the spread of the flu and COVID-19. MDH says.

The CDC said there's already evidence that community mitigation measures can help reduce the spread of the flu as evidenced in the southern hemisphere, noting that if people follow these guidelines and get the flu shot it could "substantially reduce" influenza cases this year and inform public health practices for years to come to prevent the spread of the flu. 

However, the U.S. might not be as lucky as countries on the other side of the earth. The University of Minnesota's Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy says there may be no flu reprieve this year due to the lack of national response to COVID-19, high rates of noncompliance with physical distancing, and low rates of people getting the flu shot.

Next Up

Screen Shot 2023-01-27 at 7.45.44 PM

Protest for Tyre Nichols to be held outside MN Governor’s Mansion

Activists groups say they’ll call on Gov. Tim Walz and the Legislature to implement police reforms.

Pool

Minnesota pool contractor banned from industry, must pay $2 million-plus

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison filed suit against Charles Workman and his company, MN Crete Pools, LLC, in August.

Minneapolis police

St. Paul man identified as victim of north Minneapolis homicide

The shooting occurred on the 2200 block of Emerson Avenue North on Wednesday.

ambulance

Two youths seriously injured after being struck by driver in Bloomington

Police say the boy is in a critical condition, while the girl has severe injuries.

Rosedale Center

Two men sentenced for carjacking in Rosedale Center parking lot

Leon Kismit Bell, 49, and Jack Mitchell Piche, 23, were sentenced in U.S. District Court on Jan. 20.

Screen Shot 2023-01-27 at 3.59.30 PM

Police identify White Bear Lake officer shot while serving warrant

The officer is a six-year veteran of the department.

abortion, planned parenthood

Minnesota Senate passes bill codifying abortion into state law

Having already passed in the House, it will now be sent to Gov. Tim Walz for signing into law.

Screen Shot 2023-01-27 at 7.45.44 PM

Tyre Nichols: Initial police version of events bear similarities to George Floyd killing

Memphis PD said Nichols complained of 'shortness of breath' following 'confrontations' with police, who in reality violently beat him.

George Floyd, protest

Twin Cities authorities preparing for community reaction to Tyre Nichols video

The ATF division in St. Paul sent out an alert out of "an abundance of caution."

Related

flu shot, vaccine

Drive-up flu shots start Tuesday at Minnesota HealthPartners locations

Experts say it's "doubly important" to get a flu shot this year.

Amid coronavirus pandemic, flu still 'widespread' in Minnesota

MN's flu season is going strong, with 110 deaths reported so far.

President Donald Trump

MDH reacts to President Trump comparing COVID-19 to seasonal flu

COVID-19 is on track to be the third leading cause of death in Minnesota in 2020.

Flu-related illnesses spiking again, 58 deaths in Minnesota so far

There have been 762 flu-related illness outbreaks in Minnesota schools.

cdc - flue vaccine shot 2017

Doctors urge flu shots ahead of potentially severe flu season

Last year's mild flu season could make the coming months more challenging.

A sick child receiving treatment.

Flu-related illness deaths in Minnesota double to 16

The flu is still widespread across the state.

Flu-like illness still 'widespread' in MN as schools are hit hard again

Schools were again hit hard by flu-like illness for the week ending Jan. 18.