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CORONAVIRUS

Since Paxlovid became available seven months ago, it has eclipsed other available therapies created to forestall life-threatening COVID symptoms in high-risk patients. Some doctors are quick to prescribe it, but as with so much about the COVID pandemic, there is controversy. Some patients are concerned about a possible rebound of the disease, while others have difficulty convincing their doctors they are good candidates for the drug.
Cases in the United States are up more than 25% in the last month, according to CDC data, as the rapidly spreading BA.5 subvariant has taken hold.
The Minnesota Department of Health said the two variants have become more dominant in the state, thoughs the variants have grown, the number of COVID-19 cases in Minnesota has continued to trend downward since mid-May. Those numbers could be deceiving, however.
More than 95% of the Guard’s 13,000 soldiers and airmen have been vaccinated against COVID-19, but holdouts remain. The Department of Defense has a Thursday, June 30, deadline to get the shot.

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MDH has reported COVID-19 numbers each weekday since spring 2020 when the virus was first identified in Minnesota. Nearly 1.5 million Minnesotans have tested positive for the virus, 66,282 have been hospitalized and 12,792 have died.
If all the federal hurdles are cleared, the first kid-sized doses could arrive in Minnesota next week. If they do, doctors, clinics, pharmacies and at least one community site will be ready to administer them.
Viral loads steadily climbed in all regions in the state from April to May, according to a COVID-19 wastewater surveillance dashboard maintained by the University of Minnesota in partnership with the state health department. But according to data reported from June 1 to 8, Greater Minnesota and the Twin Cities are seeing viral particle levels decline.
The CDC will do a reassessment of this decision in 90 days, the official said.
The sites will test residents for COVID-19 and those deemed to be at high risk for developing severe symptoms could get a prescription for Paxlovid.
A prolonged process of getting legislative approval for the program, which picked up steam in 2021 but didn’t culminate until this April, has given way to awareness efforts to alert potential recipients. They range from custodians to meat processors and nurses to emergency responders.

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Roughly 667,000 Minnesotans could receive the checks if they apply. And the state expected to start sending them out beginning in September.
A small county in Tennessee for much of the past year has reported the highest COVID-19 vaccination rate in Tennessee and one of the highest in the South. If only it were true. The rate in Meigs County was artificially inflated by a data error that distorted most of Tennessee’s county-level vaccination rates by attributing tens of thousands of doses to the wrong counties, according to a KHN review of Tennessee’s vaccination data. When the Tennessee Department of Health quietly corrected the error last month, county rates shifted overnight, and Meigs County’s rate of fully vaccinated people dropped from 65% to 43%, which is below the state average and middling in the rural South.
Two former Mayo Clinic employees — Shelly Kiel of Owatonna and Sherry Ihde of Zumbro Falls — filed lawsuits this week claiming they were unfairly fired for refusing COVD-19 vaccines. Their attorney said he will be filing more than 100 similar ones against Mayo Clinic as well as Olmsted Medical Center.

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