Flu activity drops slightly but deaths jump

Influenza and respiratory illness activity appears to have slowed slightly last week in Minnesota.

The Minnesota Department of Health’s latest flu report shows the percentage of molecular lab tests that came back positive last week dropped to 21.5%, down more than 5% from the week prior. Additionally, hospitalizations and school outbreaks also saw declines last week compared to the week before.

However, long-term care outbreaks increased slightly and the number of flu-related deaths jumped.

According to the report, 71 Minnesotans have now died from flu-related illnesses this season. While not all happened last week, the data is a big jump from the 46 known last week. The median age of the victims is 82.

While hospitalizations declined, 264 were still reported last week, bringing the season total to 2,601 hospitalizations in Minnesota.

With 46 new school outbreaks last week — down from 117 the week prior — a total of 945 school outbreaks have been reported this season, and the 19 long-term care outbreaks brought that season total to 58.

Despite the slight declines in activity, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still lists Minnesota and the surrounding states as having “high” flu activity.