This week on the Minnesota Native News Health Report, Minnesota leaders and health officials are reminding citizens about important and effective steps to take this holiday season to stay safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. Here’s reporter Cole Premo with more.
Many Minnesotans will be spending time with their extended families this holiday season, with a notable exception being Gov. Tim Walz. He announced recently that he and his family tested positive for COVID-19 after his son presented symptoms.
Here’s Walz in a video posted to social media on Dec. 21.
“My son Gus began feeling sick… Monday evening, we tested positive. Everyone is doing well. We’re boosted and I’m experiencing no symptoms. Was looking forward to Christmas but those things will have to wait,” said Walz.
For those who are gathering, health officials recommend that everyone get vaccinated if they haven’t already, and get their booster if they’re eligible.
Researchers say the Omicron variant is more transmissible than previous variants, but those fully vaccinated and boosted have increased protection against severe illness or death if they do contract the virus.
The next important step is testing; health officials suggest testing before holiday gatherings even if you’re not experiencing symptoms. If you’re using an over-the-counter rapid test, it’s best to do that as close to the gathering date as possible.
Testing options are available at mn.gov/covid19.
As part of the country’s response to the Omicron variant, President Joe Biden announced that his administration will be distributing 500 million free rapid tests to Americans in January.
Lastly, people are urged to wear face masks while traveling and in in-door public settings such as a grocery store, shopping mall, or a school. Washing hands and avoiding crowded indoor spaces before family gatherings is also a good idea.
The state is approaching nearly 1 million positive COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began, with over 990,000 recorded so far. That includes reinfections. About 10,200 deaths have been attributed to the virus.
Hospitalizations remain high in the state with about 355 patients with the virus needing intensive care unit beds and an additional 1,115 patients with the virus needing non-ICU beds.
About 67% of the state’s total population has had at least one vaccine dose. Over 93% of seniors are fully vaccinated.
Over 8.5 million doses have been administered, 1.5 million of those being booster shots.
Find out more information on vaccines at mn.gov/vaccine.
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