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Cases of flu, COVID continue to fall in Rochester

While a new COVID-19 variant continues to become the most common variant in the state, Olmsted County hasn't seen a measurable increase in COVID cases during January.

Oliver Mattson, 2, gets a sticker from Mayo Clinic nurse Patty Geerdes after getting his seasonal flu vaccination shot on Oct. 5, 2020, while sitting on his mom Angela Mattson’s lap at the Mayo Northwest Clinic.
Ken Klotzbach / Post Bulletin file photo

ROCHESTER — Maybe you, a family member, friend, co-worker or neighbor are fighting off a cold or cough — many are — but the Rochester area's respiratory illness outlook is still on a positive trend.

Olmsted County Public Health epidemiologist Matthew Giljork said the county's recorded cases of influenza, RSV and COVID-19 are declining, following a trend set earlier this month after area residents dealt with RSV and flu spikes in late 2022.

"Just in terms of outbreaks in schools and hospitalizations, everything ... continues to track downwards," Giljork said. "It's a definite good sign. I'm not seeing anything, at least right now, showing an increase in respiratory activity for any of the diseases that I do surveillance for."

According to the Minnesota Department of Health's Jan. 26 COVID situation update , reported positive cases across the state are remaining stable — between 500 and 600 COVID cases have been reported in Minnesota each day throughout January, down from an average of 795 cases per day in December.

While COVID seems to be trending down, Giljork said the prevalence of at-home testing has made tracking COVID waves more difficult.


"We can't rely on recorded cases as much as we have in the past," he said. "Hospitalizations are a good indicator of current levels, as well as the city of Rochester is still doing wastewater analysis. And those values have been relatively stable; they've fallen over the past couple of weeks."

Mathew Giljork Formal.jpg
Olmsted County Public Health epidemiologist Matthew Giljork.
Contributed / Olmsted County

Concerns about an increase in COVID cases due to a more immune-evasive variant, XBB.1.5, haven't materialized in Minnesota yet, though XBB.1.5 is continuing to become the dominant viral strain — the latest data from the Metropolitan Council found that XBB.1.5 made up 46% of the COVID virus load in Twin Cities wastewater.

To keep flu, COVID, RSV and cold activity on this downward trend, Giljork said it is important for people to stay vigilant by washing their hands, staying home when they are sick and staying up-to-date with flu shots and COVID boosters.

"The trends that we can see in terms of cases for both influenza and COVID can change very rapidly, depending on a variety of different variables," he said.

Dené K. Dryden is the Post Bulletin's health care reporter. She previously covered the Southeast Minnesota region for the Post Bulletin. Dené's a graduate of Kansas State University, where she cut her teeth working for the student newspaper, the Kansas State Collegian, and the student radio station, Wildcat 91.9. Readers can reach Dené at 507-281-7488 and ddryden@postbulletin.com.
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