Coronavirus

Virus Surge Sends Minnesota Hospitals Scrambling For Room

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – Minnesota hospitals are scrambling to make room for patients as patients needing medical care for COVID-19 have hit a high for the year. Hospitals have delayed non-essential procedures, diverted less serious cases to outpatient clinics, and treated emergency room patients in hallways and ambulance bays that have been converted to urgent care centers, the St. Paul Pioneer…

Douglas County Jail Deals With First Major COVID-19 Outbreak

SUPERIOR, Wis. – The Douglas County Jail is on the rebound after its first major COVID-19 outbreak affected more than two dozen inmates. Sheriff Tom Dalbec told FOX 21 Wednesday that 33 inmates have tested positive for the virus within the last two weeks. The problem exploded after a few inmates weren’t feeling well and ended up testing positive for…

Malcolm Decries ‘Alarming Spike’ in Minnesota COVID-19 Cases

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – Minnesota Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm says COVID-19 hospitalizations have reached their highest level of the year. And she says hospital capacity continues to tighten across the state amid a “truly alarming spike in cases.” The Minnesota Department of Health on Wednesday reported 5,277 new cases and 43 new deaths. As of Wednesday, Minnesota hospitals were caring for…

Pfizer Asks FDA to OK COVID-19 Booster Shots for All Adults

(AP) – Pfizer is asking U.S. regulators to allow boosters of its COVID-19 vaccine for anyone 18 or older. Older Americans and other groups particularly vulnerable to the virus have had access to a third dose of the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine since September. But the Food and Drug Administration has said it would move quickly to expand boosters to…

Hospital Sued by Employees Fired for Refusing Vaccine

NORTHFIELD, Minn. (AP) — Some medical professionals are suing a city-owned hospital in southeastern Minnesota after they were terminated for refusing to receive the coronavirus vaccine. The 20 plaintiffs, which include a doctor, registered nurses, and other medical staff, filed their lawsuit in U.S. District Court Monday alleging they were fired without just cause. They claim Northfield Hospital and Clinics…

Pfizer Says COVID-19 Pill Cut Hospital, Death Risk by 90%

WASHINGTON (AP) – Pfizer says its experimental pill for COVID-19 cut rates of hospitalization and death by nearly 90% among patients with mild-to-moderate infections. The company announced Friday it will soon ask the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and international regulators to authorize its pill, which is taken twice a day for five days. A similar pill from competitor Merck…

Manufacturers Sue Over Federal Vaccine Mandates for Workers

DARIEN, Wis. (AP) – Two Wisconsin manufacturers are among those suing to block the Biden administration from instituting COVID-19 vaccine mandates for private-sector workers. The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty filed the lawsuit Thursday on behalf of Darien-based Tankcraft Corp. and Plasticraft Corp. The lawsuit challenges the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s new vaccine-or-test mandate for businesses with 100…

City Of Duluth To Require Employees Get Vaccinated Or Test For Covid Weekly

DULUTH, Minn. – The city of Duluth will soon be requiring its employees to get vaccinated or get weekly COVID tests. A city spokesperson said the new requirement will start in December. This comes after President Joe Biden made an executive order in September telling employers with 100 or more people to require workers to get vaccinated or get weekly…

US Mandates Vaccines or Tests for Big Companies by Jan. 4

(AP) – Tens of millions of Americans who work at companies with 100 or more employees will need to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by Jan. 4 or get tested for the virus weekly. The new government rules were issued Thursday. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration says companies that fail to comply could face penalties of nearly $14,000 per violation….

US Advisers Urge COVID Shot for Kids 5-11, Final OK Due Soon

(AP) – An influential U.S. advisory panel is recommending that all children ages 5 to 11 should get Pfizer’s pediatric COVID-19 vaccine. If the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention agrees with Tuesday’s vote, the U.S. will embark on a major expansion of vaccinations. Pediatricians are getting ready to put kid-size doses into little arms as soon…

U.S. Military Weighs Penalties for Service Members Who Refuse COVID Vaccine

(courtesy: U.S. Navy) WASHINGTON (AP) – As deadlines loom for military and defense civilians to get mandated COVID-19 vaccines, senior leaders must now wrestle with the fate of those who flatly refuse the shots or are seeking exemptions, and how to make sure they are treated fairly and equally. The vast majority of the active-duty force has received at least…

COVID-19 Vaccine To Be Ready for Children in Wisconsin Later This Week

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Health care providers and other coronavirus vaccine distributors in Wisconsin say they could have doses that are ready to be administered to younger children by the end of the week. On Tuesday, a special advisory panel to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will meet to consider recommendations for administering the Pfizer vaccine to younger…

FDA Paves Way for Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccinations in Young Kids

WASHINGTON (AP) – The Food and Drug Administration has paved the way for children ages 5 to 11 to get Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine. The agency authorized the kid-size doses on Friday. But there’s one more regulatory hurdle. Next week, advisers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will discuss which youngsters should get vaccinated. In the meantime, Pfizer plans…

Merck Agrees To Let Other Drug Makers Make Its COVID Pill

(Merck & Co. via AP) LONDON (AP) – Pharmaceutical company Merck has agreed to allow other drug makers to make its COVID-19 treatment, the first pill that has been shown to be effective against the disease. The move aims at helping millions of people in poorer countries access the drug. The U.N.-backed Medicines Patent Pool said in a statement on…

Gov Walz Announces Plan to Vaccinate 5-11 Year Olds in Minnesota

ST. PAUL, Minn. – Today, Governor Tim Walz announced Minnesota’s plan to administer the COVID-19 vaccine to children ages 5-11 after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Advisory Committee voted to recommend the use of the Pfizer vaccine in children 5-11 years old. “Every 5-11-year-old in Minnesota deserves the protection the COVID-19 vaccine has to offer,” said Governor Walz. “The…

FDA Advisers Back Pfizer’s COVID-19 Vaccine for Young Kids

WASHINGTON (AP) – U.S. health advisers have endorsed kid-size doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for younger children. The vote Tuesday by the Food and Drug Administration panel moves the U.S. closer to vaccinating children ages 5 to 11. The FDA isn’t bound by the panel’s recommendation and is expected to make its own decision within days. If regulators agree, shots…

COVID-19 Wave Overwhelms Rural Hospitals Short On ICU Beds

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – The case of a rural Minnesota man who waited two days for an ICU bed and later died is among several examples that have frustrated officials in rural hospitals whose facilities are overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients. Bob Cameron spent two days in his hometown hospital in Hallock, Minnesota, where caregivers searched nonstop for space in a larger…

Pfizer Says COVID-19 Vaccine More Than 90% Effective in Kids

(AP) – Pfizer says kid-size doses of its COVID-19 vaccine are safe and nearly 91% effective at preventing symptomatic infections in elementary school children. Details of the study were posted online Friday as U.S. regulators consider opening vaccinations to youngsters 5 to 11. The shots could begin early next month if regulators give the go-ahead. If the FDA authorizes the…

Teachers Ask For Virus Protocols After Student, Staff Deaths

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) – Members of Minnesota’s teacher’s union are calling on on school leaders to do more to protect students and staff after the state Department of Health reported the first student death from COVID-19 this school year. Health officials said the student and two staff members died last week. That increased the total number of school fatalities…

St. Louis County Public Health Updates Online COVID Dashboard To Include New Regional Data, Pediatric Information

ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Minn. – St. Louis County Public Health has updated its online COVID-19 dashboard to include new and updated regional data as well as pediatric COVID information. Health officials say the dashboard now includes clearer data about transmission rates and trends in the county. New graphs have also been added showing the total number of new cases added…

Unvaccinated Minnesotans 30x More Likely To Die From COVID

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm says unvaccinated Minnesotans are 15 times more likely to require hospitalization for COVID-19 and 30 times more likely to die from the disease than unvaccinated residents. The commissioner gave those figures Wednesday as the Minnesota Department of Health began posting additional data as part of its weekly report on vaccine breakthrough cases, which…

Gov. Walz Announces More COVID Rapid Testing Sites Across Minnesota

ST. PAUL, Minn. – On Wednesday Governor Walz’s office announced more COVID-19 rapid testing sites will be added in the coming weeks across Minnesota, including Duluth and Hibbing. Beginning Friday the current COVID testing site located at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center will offer rapid tests to the community. Earlier this month the DECC exapnded its COVID testing capacity by…

White House Details Plans to Vaccinate 28M Children Age 5-11

WASHINGTON (AP) – Kids aged 5 to 11 will soon be able to get a COVID-19 shot at their pediatrician’s office, local pharmacy, and potentially even their school. The White House is detailing plans Wednesday for the expected authorization of the Pfizer shot for younger children in a matter of weeks. The country has ample supplies of shots to vaccinate…

St. Louis County Public Health Announces New Vaccine and Testing Options

DULUTH, Minn. – St. Louis County Public Health is continuing to offer COVID-19 vaccine appointments and testing opportunities for the community. Vaccines available at these clinics include Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson and Johnson. Also available are Pfizer boosters for those who are eligible, as well as third doses of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for immunocompromised individuals. Vaccine appointments this week…

Gov. Walz Announces Gift Cards, Shot at Scholarships for Vaccinated 12-17 Year-Olds

Those between the ages of 12 to 17 can get a $200 VISA gift card if they get vaccinated, and a shot at one of 5 $100k scholarships

ST. PAUL, Minn.- Governor Tim Walz just rolled out a new incentive program for Minnesota pre-teens and teens to get the COVID vaccine. The program is called “Kids Deserve a Shot.” Those between the ages of 12 to 17 can get a $200 VISA gift card if they get vaccinated. The Governor says with covid-19 cases surging in the state…

Walz to Deploy National Guard to Help Ease COVID-19 Surge

ROBBINSDALE, Minn. (AP) – Gov. Tim Walz says he’ll use the Minnesota National Guard to help alleviate staffing shortages at care facilities that are struggling with the surge in COVID-19 cases. The governor announced plans Friday at North Memorial Health Hospital in Robbinsdale for alleviating bottlenecks caused by staffing shortages that prevent hospitals from moving recovering patients to transitional and…

Judge Won’t Block Vaccine Mandate for Minnesota Workers

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — A federal judge won’t block a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for scores of Minnesota health care workers, at least for now. Nearly 200 Minnesota health care workers filed a lawsuit in September challenging the requirement from President Joe Biden’s administration that all workers in most health settings get vaccinated or lose their jobs. The workers argued…

Beds, Staff at Duluth Hospitals Stretched Thin Under St. Louis County’s COVID Surge

COVID patients take up 59 of the hospital beds at Essentia St. Mary's Medical Center -- the highest they've seen since last winter. At St. Luke's, 25% of the ICU beds are filled with COVID patients.

DULUTH, Minn.- St. Louis County continues to see an uptick of COVID-19 cases, while the country overall is seeing a dip. The surge is continuing to fatigue health systems according to experts, as they urge more to get vaccinated and mask up. “Now, while much of the country experiences a decrease in COVID transmission following the latest peak, there’s some…

Minnesota COVID-19 Positivity Rate Hits Vaccine-era High

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) – Minnesota’s COVID-19 test positivity rate has soared to 8.3%, the highest mark since the vaccines first rolled out late last year. The seven-day rolling average for the state’s positivity rate continues to climb toward the high-risk category. The state draws that line at 10%. Meanwhile, COVID-19 hospitalizations in Minnesota reached 960 as of Monday and…

Next on FDA’s Agenda: Booster Shots of Moderna, J&J Vaccines

WASHINGTON (AP) – With many Americans who got Pfizer vaccinations already rolling up their sleeves for a booster shot, millions of others who received the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccine wait anxiously to learn when it’s their turn. Federal regulators begin tackling that question this week. On Thursday and Friday, the Food and Drug Administration convenes its independent advisers…

Parent Sues Wisconsin School District After Child Contracts COVID-19

WAUKESHA, Wis. (AP) – A parent has sued a southeastern Wisconsin school district after her son contracted COVID-19 from a classmate. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that Shannon Jensen filed the lawsuit in federal court against the Waukesha School District and school board on Oct. 5. According to the lawsuit, the board in May removed a student mask requirement and…

Merck Asks US FDA To Authorize Promising Anti-COVID Pill

(Merck & Co. via AP) WASHINGTON (AP) – Drugmaker Merck has asked U.S. regulators to authorize its promising antiviral pill against COVID-19, setting the stage for a decision within weeks. If cleared by the Food and Drug Administration, it would be the first pill shown to treat COVID-19, adding a new, easy-to-use weapon to the world’s arsenal against the pandemic….

Minnesota Long-Term Care Facilities have 23,000 Job Openings

Leaders from senior living organizations throughout the state say they have about 23,000 job openings, about 20 percent of the workforce at full strength.

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) – While much has been made about the stress that COVID-19 has placed on Minnesota hospitals, the state’s long-term care industry says it is facing its worst-ever workforce shortage. Leaders from senior living organizations throughout the state say they have about 23,000 job openings. That is about 20 percent of the workforce at full strength. Leaders…

97% Of University of Minnesota Students Vaccinated Before Mandate Deadline

MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) – When students returned to the University of Minnesota Twin Cities campus last month, it was with the understanding they had to be vaccinated by October 8. Now that the deadline is here, university officials say most students have complied with the vaccine mandate. “I filled mine out yesterday. They sent me a reminder email,” said sophomore…

Minnesota Health Leaders Warn of Strain on Caregivers, Kids

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – Minnesota health leaders are warning that the fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic is putting a heavy strain on hospitals and health care workers statewide as the coronavirus burns through the unvaccinated population. They also told reporters Thursday that transmission in schools and among children is a particular concern, with pediatric ICU beds in short supply. Health…

Most State Workers Get COVID Shots, but Some Face Discipline

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) – Some Minnesota government employees say that a month into the COVID-19 vaccine policy for state workers, their agencies are ramping up discipline for employees who either won’t get the vaccine or submit to weekly testing. State officials say more than 500 employees have declined both options, Employees who decline to be vaccinated or tested can…

Parents File Lawsuit Against Rock Ridge School District Over Mask Mandate

VIRGINIA, Minn. – Following last week’s announcement that Rock Ridge schools would be implementing a mask mandate for all students, staff, and visitors a group of parents has responded by filing a lawsuit against the district on Monday. The group of nearly 300 parents is asking in the lawsuit to cease implementation of the district’s “COVID-19 Mitigation Plan” and to…

Walz Calls for Vaccine and Testing Requirements for Teachers

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – Gov. Tim Walz is calling on lawmakers to approve a series of new measures to respond to the fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, including vaccine and testing requirements for teachers and school staff, and for long-term care workers. The Democratic governor detailed his proposal in a letter to lawmakers that he released after meeting privately with…

J&J Seeks US Clearance for COVID-19 Vaccine Booster Doses

WASHINGTON (AP) – Johnson & Johnson has asked U.S. regulators to allow booster shots of its COVID-19 vaccine as the U.S. government moves toward shoring up protection in more vaccinated Americans. J&J said Tuesday it filed data with the Food and Drug Administration on giving a booster dose between two to six months after vaccination. The U.S. government last month…

Northland Health Experts Warn of ‘Severe’ Flu Season to Come, On Top of Pandemic

The shadow looming over all this, according to experts, is the stress healthcare systems nationwide are already under.

DULUTH, Minn.- According to Northland health experts, the outlook for this year’s flu season is not good, as they prepare for a one-two punch of the flu and the ongoing COVID-19 surge. “A lot of people are back out doing their normal activities, we’re not in quarantine so those factors will play a role in what could be a severe…

New COVID Testing Options Offered on the Iron Range

VIRGINIA, Minn. – New COVID-19 testing options are available on the Iron Range starting this week. St. Louis County Public Health along with the Minnesota Department of Health has increased the availability of walk-in saliva tests in Eveleth and Virginia. Free saliva tests are now available on the following days at the following locations, and will continue until further notice:…

UMD Student Sues The University of Minnesota Over Vaccine Mandate

DULUTH, Minn. – A University of Minnesota Duluth student has filed a lawsuit against the University of Minnesota System over its COVID-19 vaccine mandate. According to court documents, the lawsuit, filed Wednesday, names the President of the University of Minnesota Joan Gabel, the U of M Board of Regents, and all five of the University of Minnesota campuses as defending…

Minnesota Health Care Workers Sue to Block Vaccine Mandate

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Nearly 200 Minnesota health workers are suing their employers to block a pending requirement that they are vaccinated against COVID-19 or risk getting fired. The lawsuit was filed in federal court late Monday against federal officials and about 20 providers that operate hospitals and clinics across Minnesota. It contends the lack of alternatives to vaccination infringes on…

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases Top 700k; ICU Cases Dip to 197

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) – Minnesota’s total number of confirmed coronavirus cases has topped the 700,000 mark, while the number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care at Minnesota hospitals fell below 200 for the first time in two weeks. The Minnesota Department of Health on Tuesday reported 6,203 new cases to raise the state’s total to 706,158 laboratory-confirmed cases. The…

St. Luke’s Employees Booster Up; Eligible Public Starts Tuesday

People over 65, adults with certain underlying medical health conditions, and those who work in environments with increased risk of COVID-19 are eligible for booster shots.

DULUTH, Minn.- Pfizer booster shots have begun going into the arms of healthcare workers in the Northland, as eligible members of the public start getting those shots Tuesday. “I think it’s really a great step, it’s gonna help with everything that’s coming this winter and it’s just gonna help keep our community that much safer,” said Kelly Zapp, St. Luke’s…

St. Luke’s To Offer COVID-19 Vaccine Booster Doses to Those Eligible

DULUTH, Minn. – St. Luke’s will start offering COVID-19 vaccine booster doses for those eligible beginning next week. The hospital says the vaccines will be given at the St. Luke’s COVID-19 Clinic by appointment only. Appointments are available to schedule via the myCare patient portal or by calling the Vaccine Clinic at 218-249-4200. The CDC’s recent recommendations for COVID-19 boosters…

US Sets the Stage for COVID Booster Shots for Millions

(AP) – The U.S. vaccination drive against COVID-19 stands on the verge of a major new phase: Government advisers on Thursday recommended booster doses of Pfizer’s vaccine for millions of Americans. This, despite concern among some experts that the extra shots will do little to slow the pandemic. The advisory panel to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended…