Torey Van Oot
Jan 17, 2023 - COVID

What we know about the XBB.1.5 COVID subvariant in the Twin Cities

Data: Metropolitan Council; Chart: Thomas Oide/Axios

A new Omicron subvariant is spreading rapidly throughout the nation, but has yet to set off a new wave of COVID cases in the Twin Cities — and experts aren't sure if it ever will.

The big picture: The variant, known as XBB.1.5, is believed to be the most transmissible form of Omicron to date. Health experts say it's to blame for a recent surge in cases in the Northeast U.S.

Torey Van Oot
Nov 29, 2022 - COVID

Chart du jour: Twin Cities COVID levels creep up

Data: Metropolitan Council ; Chart: Tory Lysik/Axios Visuals

COVID levels are creeping up in the Twin Cities, per Met Council's latest wastewater data dump.

Why it matters: A "tripledemic" of flu, RSV and COVID is already straining local hospitals.

Driving the news: The total viral load detected at the metro plant increased by 24% in the week ending Nov. 21, compared to the previous week.

Torey Van Oot
Oct 4, 2022 - News

Minnesota to send $487 payments to 1 million pandemic frontline workers

Illustration of an origami heart made from paper money.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

More than 1 million Minnesotans who worked frontline jobs at the onset of the pandemic are finally getting their "hero" pay.

The big picture: The $487 bonuses, set to go out starting Wednesday, are smaller than the $750 lawmakers envisioned when they approved the program.

Torey Van Oot
Sep 28, 2022 - COVID

Boosters, anyone? Demand for Omicron shot off to a slow start in Minnesota

Illustration of a turtle carrying a vial of liquid

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Demand for Omicron boosters in Minnesota is off to a tepid start.

The big picture: Just over 197,000 Minnesotans have received a dose of the updated boosters, called bivalent vaccines, since they rolled out earlier this month, state data shows.

Torey Van Oot
Sep 1, 2022 - COVID

FDA authorization paves way for Omicron boosters in Minnesota

Illustration of a person's arm with multiple bandaids on it.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Omicron boosters are coming soon to the Twin Cities.

What's happening: Yesterday, the FDA authorized updated COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna that are tailored to target the current dominant strain.

  • Assuming a key CDC advisory committee gives a green light this week, the shots are expected to be available after Labor Day.

The big picture: Health experts say the shots could provide extra protection from serious illness heading into the fall, but it's unclear how many people will actually seek another dose.

Between the lines: The reformulated mRNA shots got regulators' blessing without human testing, as the Biden administration prioritizes speed over having all the data on how the vaccines work in real life, Axios' Tina Reed reports.

  • While experts say the boosters are safe, some warn that this approach risks dampening enthusiasm for the shot.

Zoom in: So far, interest in booster shots has been higher in Minnesota than in many parts of the country.

  • About two thirds of vaccinated Minnesotans — about 2.4 million residents — have already had a booster, state data shows. Nationally, the booster rate is less than 50%.

Yes, but: Booster adoption in the state is much higher among older cohorts. It drops to 55% for those under 49.

Who's eligible: Moderna's booster will be available for fully vaccinated people over age 18, while Pfizer's is for age 12 and older.

What to watch: State health officials told Axios they will have more details and a timeline on when to expect the shots once "CDC guidance and operational plans are confirmed."

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to show that Moderna's booster (not Pfizer's) will be for people over age 18, while Pfizer's (not Moderna's) will be available for age 12 and older.

Torey Van Oot
Aug 22, 2022 - COVID

Most Minnesota kids have contracted COVID, CDC survey says

Data: CDC; Map: Simran Parwani/Axios

An estimated eight in 10 Minnesota kids have already been infected with COVID-19, new CDC data shows.

Driving the news: The CDC released the results of its latest pediatric antibody seroprevalence survey last week.

Torey Van Oot
Jul 28, 2022 - COVID

COVID-19 shot rates off to a slow start for Minnesota kids under 5

Data: MDH; Chart: Skye Witley/Axios

Just 7% of Minnesota children under 5 have gotten a COVID-19 shot since the vaccines were approved for the cohort last month, state data show.

The big picture: The lack of local interest mirrors national trends.

Torey Van Oot
Jul 21, 2022 - News

More than 1 million apply for Minnesota frontline worker checks

Illustration of a superhero symbol with a dollar sign that changes to a question mark.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Minnesota's Department of Labor has received more than 1,075,000 applications for the state's new $500 million frontline worker pay fund ahead of Friday's deadline.

The big picture: Interest in the $750 bonus checks, meant to serve as a thank you for Minnesotans who worked in essential in-person roles in the early days of the pandemic, has far exceeded lawmakers' estimate for the population of qualified workers.

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