Allina Health statement on discovery of Omicron COVID-19 variant in Minnesota

For more information, contact: Tim Burke, 651-409-3030

Allina Health today issued this statement from Hsieng Su, MD, Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Executive, Allina Health, on the announcement that the first case of the Omicron COVID-19 variant has been detected in Minnesota:

Throughout the course of this pandemic, scientific experts have continuously warned that COVID-19 variants will continue to emerge until we are able to suppress the ability of the virus to circulate and mutate through widespread vaccination efforts. We live within a connected global community and today Omicron—the latest known variant—was confirmed to be present in Minnesota.

While the scientific community works rapidly to answer key questions about the Omicron variant including its transmissibility, severity, and the level of protection from our current vaccines, there is a lot about the current state of COVID-19 in Minnesota that we do know and can act on now to control the spread in our community.

First and foremost, like other health systems in Minnesota, Wisconsin and around the country, Allina Health is being strained beyond its limits on a daily basis trying to meet the existing health care needs of the community. We are in the thick of an extended fourth COVID-19 surge that is being compounded by staffing shortages and high volumes of non-COVID-19 medical needs exacerbated by delayed care and seasonal illnesses like influenza. Our remarkable care teams have been in the trenches of this pandemic for almost two years continuously demonstrating their commitment, ingenuity and resilience in delivering compassionate care in exceedingly difficult circumstances. However, our care teams cannot carry the burden of this pandemic on their broad and capable, yet weary shoulders alone. We need a similar level of commitment and partnership from the community to ensure timely access to care for everyone who needs it.

In the wake of Delta and in the face of Omicron, here is what we can all do to take control of our health crisis:

  • Get vaccinated and boosted. This is our single greatest tool in the fight against COVID-19 and can reduce pressure on the health care system.
  • Recommit to following public health practices like testing, masking, social distancing, washing hands and staying home when sick. This is especially important during the holiday season and at this time of increased seasonal illness.
  • Seek preventative care, like screenings, to maintain health and avoid more advanced illness in the future.
  • Finally, remember to show grace and gratitude for all those who continue to show up daily to provide care to our friends and family. They need your support and encouragement now more than ever.

The arrival of Omicron is certainly not the news we need right now or wished for. However, we will control its impact on our community if we all take the steps outlined above. We are at a critical point in the pandemic journey and our caregivers need help. The real front line has always been in the community and the decisions we make every day about our actions in the midst of this pandemic.

Minnesota and Wisconsin have a history of rising to challenges and we know that by working together we can do so again to protect the health and safety of our communities.

About Allina Health

Allina Health is dedicated to the prevention and treatment of illness and enhancing the greater health of individuals, families and communities throughout Minnesota and western Wisconsin. A not-for-profit health care system, Allina Health cares for patients from beginning to end-of-life through its 90+ clinics, 11 hospitals, 15 retail pharmacies, specialty care centers and specialty medical services, home care, and emergency medical transportation services.