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Respiratory illnesses in Minnesota schools continued to soar last week, with the latest state health data showing the highest number of school outbreaks reported in years.

The Minnesota Department of Health recorded 240 new outbreaks of influenza-like illness in schools the week ending Saturday, Nov. 19. A bad flu season in 2019 peaked at about 170 school outbreaks in late December.

Minnesota Department of Health Weekly Influenza & Respiratory Activity Report for Week Ending Nov. 19, 2022 | WEEK 46. 

Minnesota Department of Health Weekly Influenza & Respiratory Activity Report for Week Ending Nov. 19, 2022 | WEEK 46. 

At a press conference this week, Minnesota doctors and hospital leaders said the timing of this year's surge in RSV and influenza is unprecedented. 

Rather than beginning a typical surge in mid-December, RSV and other viruses have slammed Minnesota hospitals since September. There's also been an unusually high number of children becoming severely ill and requiring hospitalization. 

Read more: 'More sick children than we can manage': Hospital leaders discuss capacity crisis

Minnesota Department of Health Weekly Influenza & Respiratory Activity Report for the Week Ending Nov. 19, 2022 | WEEK 46. 

Minnesota Department of Health Weekly Influenza & Respiratory Activity Report for the Week Ending Nov. 19, 2022 | WEEK 46. 

While hospitals across the state are reporting significant capacity challenges, the latest MDH report did show hospitalizations tick downward. There were 275 influenza hospitalizations in the week ending Nov. 19, compared to 241 hospitalizations in the prior week.

However, experts are warning the surge may worsen after holiday gatherings and travel, and are urging anyone with symptoms — however mild — to stay home. 

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