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A silver lining: MDH reports promising news amid COVID-19 surge

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Published: Dec. 1, 2021 at 8:02 PM CST
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MINNESOTA -- The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) announced Wednesday it will be receiving federal aid from FEMA to administer COVID-19 prevention and treatment.

The announcement came as the state continues to battle a surge in COVID-19 cases.

The current wave is the worst since December 2020, and all 87 counties in the state have high transmission rates.

Kelly Chandler with Itasca County Health said the surge is unfortunate, but not entirely unsurprising.

“We still have the delta variant which is prevalent in Itasca, and in Minnesota, and with the higher viral load it’s more infectious, that too can contribute to why we’re seeing more vaccine breakthrough,” said Chandler.

The state also recorded 100 deaths for the first time since last March, likely a result of decreased reporting over the holiday weekend.

Statewide, nearly 1.1 million people have received their COVID-19 booster shot.

Chandler said the increase in people starting their vaccine series is encouraging.

“We’re always thankful whether it’s one person, or ten people, or 50 people, we’re just happy that they’re making that choice,” she said.

According to state health leaders, Minnesota ranks second-best in booster doses in the country.

With the newly acquired federal aid, 16 FEMA personnel will help the state administer vaccinations and monoclonal antibody treatments.

Monoclonal antibodies are typically given to at-risk individuals who test positive to prevent severe symptoms and hospitalization.

The treatment is promising, but Kris Ehresmann with the Minnesota Department of Health said they should not replace the vaccine.

“Vaccination remains our strongest tool for preventing COVID and preventing severe illness,” she said.

The state is also preparing plans to distribute the Merck antiviral pill if authorized by the FDA and CDC.

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