Flu hospitalizations continue to spike in Minnesota

Hospitalizations due to influenza jumped again last week in Minnesota, more than doubling the number of flu-related hospitalizations from the previous week.

The Minnesota Department of Health’s latest flu activity report shows 108 hospitalizations due to the flu last week, up from 44 in the final week of October. The state has seen 182 total flu-related hospitalizations thus far, per the report.

For context, the state had 901 flu-related hospitalizations all last flu season, although in the years prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the state averaged between 3,000 and 4,000 flu-related hospitalizations per season. Health officials have noted precautions implemented during the pandemic, including masking, likely helped suppress the flu over the past two years.

MDH’s report notes residents of the Twin Cities metro area continue to be affected most by the flu, with the region accounting for 87% of last week’s hospitalizations and 86% of flu-related hospitalizations this season.

So far, three people have died from flu-related complications, with their median age of death at 82 years old.

School outbreaks also spiked last week, with 97 recorded compared to 15 the week before. MDH considers an outbreak to be when 5% of a school’s students have a flu-like illness or three or more kids from the same elementary classroom have a flu-like illness.

The somewhat good news from MDH’s report is respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) hospitalizations dropped slightly last week, although cases among kids 2-4 years old grew slightly and more than 170 hospitalizations were still reported.