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OMICRON VARIANT

A seemingly endless stream of “subvariants” of omicron, the most recent Greek-letter variant, has emerged in the past few months. How different are these subvariants from one another? Can infection by one subvariant protect someone from infection by another subvariant? And how well are the existing coronavirus vaccines doing against the subvariants? We asked medical and epidemiological experts these and other questions.
Health officials say that declining hospitalizations is a better metric for tracking spread.
Federal health officials say the best prevention against COVID-19 infection among infants, who cannot be vaccinated, is for pregnant women and new mothers to become vaccinated.
The BA.2 subvariant has been found in most states, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and accounts for nearly 4% of cases nationwide.

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After two years of dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, a Minnesota emergency room physician talks about the toll on hospital staff and patients.
Modeling scientists say cases and hospitalizations now in decline, but have a long way to go. With 1 in 4 residents already infected, the state could see up to 1 in every 2 Minnesotans having been infected by mid-March.
The proposal, made by the WHO's working group on sustainable financing, would increase each member state's standing annual contribution, according to a WHO document published online and dated Jan. 4.
When given early, lab-engineered antibody infusions have reduced COVID-19 hospitalizations among persons at high risk. Previous versions of these treatments do not appear to work against the omicron variant, however. Replacement products are in short supply, with providers given a few dozen treatments weekly while managing hundreds of new patients.
Gov. Tim Walz announced that the first round of staffing support teams was set to move out to 23 hospitals.
How is the omicron variant different from others? How should you test for omicron? What mask should you wear? When will the omicron surge end? We provide some answers to these and other questions, with information current as of Tuesday, Jan. 18.

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The CDC clarified on its website "that people can choose respirators such as N95s and KN95s, including removing concerns related to supply shortages for N95s."
The Mayo Clinic's modeling project is its digital crystal ball for identifying emerging high-transmission hot spots across the country. Mayo data scientist Dr. Curtis Storlie says Minnesota is now on track to double its highest case numbers. "We're probably half way," Storlie said. "From what we're seeing ... the peak in cases could be anywhere from next week to the first week of February, with an estimate of Jan. 24 as our case peak for the state."
Starting Jan. 10, all patients and visitors will be required to wear a medical-grade mask while in Tri-County Health Care facilities. They will be available at all main entrances and in the ER, a news release stated.

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