Jan 3, 2022 - COVID

Minnesota kicks off 2022 with more COVID frustration

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Omicron dashed our dreams of a 2022 free of COVID disruption.

Driving the news: The rapidly spreading variant has prompted temporary restaurant closures, concert and flight cancelations and delays to return-to-office plans.

The big picture: While it appears Omicron causes less severe illness for many, a winter surge in infections threatens to overwhelm our already stressed health care system.

  • Plus: Weeks or months more of business closures and empty office desks could hinder the economic rebound, especially in downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul.

What they're saying: "Over the next three to four weeks we are going to see the number of cases in this country rise so dramatically that we're going to have a hard time keeping everyday life operating," University of Minnesota infectious disease expert Michael Osterholm said on MSNBC last week.

Yes, but: With 67% of Minnesotans over age 5 fully vaccinated, and 50% of those 18 and older boosted, we are in a much better place than we were at the pandemic's onset.

  • Testing and better treatments have given us tools to reduce spread and serious illness.
  • And experts are hopeful that once the Omicron wave ends, life will finally be able to more closely resemble normal, as Axios' Caitlin Owens writes.

What to watch: A spike in cases as people return to school and work post-New Year could cause a difficult few weeks.

The bottom line: We had all hoped for a return to "normalcy" by now.

  • Instead, we're bracing for more sickness and frustration.

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