MN COVID-19 testing sites will start prescribing Paxlovid for treating disease

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Clinicians at three Minnesota COVID-19 testing sites will start prescribing antiviral treatments for high-risk people who are infected with the coronavirus.

In the coming week, state-run sites will become “test-to-treat” locations where eligible people can receive prescriptions for Paxlovid. The Brooklyn Park site will begin offering evaluations for the coronavirus treatments June 10, Moorhead on June 13 and Duluth on June 14.

More state-run sites are expected to start offering screening for treatment prescriptions in the coming weeks.

“I am proud to be one of the first states to partner with the federal government to offer more test-to-treat options to people who need them,” Gov. Tim Walz said in a statement announcing the new availability. “We will continue to make sure all Minnesotans have options when it comes to testing for and treating COVID-19. It is important when someone tests positive for COVID-19, they have immediate access to treatment options.”

Antivirals have shown to reduce both severe illness and death from COVID-19 for people who have underlying health conditions that put them at high risk. The drug is most successful if taken early so a timely diagnosis is important.

At the new test-to-treat sites, people who test positive via a rapid test will have the option of being evaluated by medical staff to determine if Paxlovid is necessary. The treatments are being provided at no cost through a partnership between Minnesota and the federal government.

“Antiviral treatments are a critical piece of our fight against COVID-19 and new community test-to-treat sites will ensure those treatments are more accessible and available statewide,” Health Commissioner Jan Malcom said in a statement.

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE

Minnesota’s current rate of new coronavirus cases remains above health officials’ high-risk threshold, with about 26 new infections per 100,000 residents per week. Case rates are an undercount because of the growing popularity of at-home tests that are not reported to the state.

Hospitalizations also remain elevated with 422 patients requiring care, including 47 in critical condition. Hospital capacity remains challenging, with half the state’s hospitals reporting no available intensive care beds.

The rate of deaths has risen to a weekly average of more than seven per day; 10 new fatalities were reported Wednesday. The latest COVID-19 deaths to be reported ranged in age from their 50s to more than 100.

Health officials say nearly all new coronavirus cases are caused by the one of the four strains of the omicron variant that are circulating in the state. Vaccines still offer protection against severe illness, but are less effective at stopping infection.

Vaccine protection wanes after about five months and boosters are recommended, especially for people who are older or have underlying risk factors.

About 67 percent of Minnesota’s 5.7 million residents have gotten their initial series of vaccines, but only about 44 percent are up-to-date with the recommended additional doses.

More information about testing, vaccines and the state’s ongoing pandemic response is available at: mn.gov/covid19.

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