Minnesota becomes nation's COVID-19 hot spot

Health workers at COVID-19 testing station
Health workers at COVID-19 testing station

MN National Guard / Ben Houtkooper, Flickr cc

Following weeks of rising cases, Minnesota's rate of new COVID-19 infections is now the highest in the nation, and more than 95% of the state's available inpatient hospital beds are filled with patients.

Late last week, 1,282 people were hospitalized with the virus in the state, including 311 in intensive care units. The positivity rate is 9.7%, nearing last December's pandemic peak of 10%.

The Upper Midwest may be on the verge of a new surge of COVID-19 cases, as cold weather sets in and waning immunity from vaccines leads to more breakthrough infections. In Michigan COVID-19 hospitalizations surpassed 3,000 for the first time in 6 months amid a fourth surge in infections, the Associated Press reports.

According to the New York Times, Wisconsin and North Dakota are also reporting spikes in daily reported cases.

In total, the United States reported 143,685 new COVID-19 cases yesterday and 1,271 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins COVID-19 tracker.

States broaden booster offerings

Arkansas and West Virginia have joined New Mexico, California, and Colorado in offering booster vaccine doses to anyone over 18 who has seen at least 6 month elapse from their last vaccine dose. Gov. Asa Hutchinson ordered the directive yesterday.

"We want to make sure everyone 18 and over is eligible and is encouraged to get the booster," Hutchinson said.

New York City officials made a similar announcement yesterday as well, saying anyone who seeks a booster dose will not be turned away.

"Clinicians should allow adult patients to determine their own risk of exposure based on their individual circumstances," said the city's health commissioner, Dave A. Chokshi, MD.

The federal government has not yet recommended the widespread use of booster shots, but sources close to the Biden administration said that move is imminent, and could be announced later this week.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention COVID Data Tracker shows 58.8% of Americans are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, 68.4% have received at least one dose of vaccine, and 15.4% of fully vaccinated Americans have received a booster dose.

Pediatric cases rise

More than 122,000 child COVID-19 cases were reported from Nov 4 to Nov 11, a 22% increase from the previous week, according to the latest update from the American Academy of Pediatrics. This is the 14th week consecutive week of more than 100,000 pediatric cases reported.

A total of 6.6 million American children have tested positive for COVID-19 during the pandemic. In total, children make up 16.8% of total COVID-19 cases in the country, and in the week of Nov 4 to Nov 11 represented 27% of cases.

In related news, the National Institutes of Health is starting a study to track the impact of COVID-19 infections in children, ABC News reports. The study will track up to 1,000 children and young adults between 3 and 21 who previously tested positive for COVID-19.

Little is currently known about "long COVID" and kids, but the study seeks to understand long term outcomes for children who have had the virus, and any risk factors for complications.

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