MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Minnesota Department of Health says two more Minnesotans have died from complications over severe lung injuries linked with vaping.

These mark the second and third deaths associated with vaping in the state. Prior to today’s announcement from the state health department, 26 deaths had been reported from 21 states that were confirmed to  be associated with vaping. Nearly 1,300 lung injury cases have been reported across 49 states.

Authorities say both of the newly-reported Minnesota cases involved people who were over 50 years old, and both of them died in September.

“We are saddened by the news of these deaths, and we are troubled that so many Minnesotans continue to suffer in this outbreak,” Minnesota Commissioner of Health Jan Malcolm said. “We’re working hard with our partners across the country to learn as much as we can about these injuries and deaths, and to determine what can be done to prevent them.”

The first vaping-related death in the state was reported by the MDH on Sept. 6. Like one of the two new cases, that person was found to have vaped products that included illegal THC. However, the second new case reported Wednesday was a patient who had severe underlying conditions, and is believed to have vaped unknown products in addition to nicotine.

Malcolm reiterated the importance of avoiding the use of any illegal cannabis products when vaping. Minnesota has 73 patients now listed as either confirmed or probable cases of severe lung injury due to vaping.

Another 32 people are being reviewed to see if they are also to be added to that list.

“My heart is with the families, friends, and communities of these two Minnesotans. Seventy-three Minnesotans, who have experienced severe lung injury in this outbreak associated with vaping illegal THC over the past several months, is too many. In addition to these dramatic injuries, we are concerned about the long-term health impacts of vaping,” Gov. Tim Walz said in a statement. “The Administration is launching an aggressive outreach campaign to ensure Minnesotans know the risks of vaping and putting together bold legislative policies to tackle this crisis head on. We must ensure Minnesotans have the information, support, and resources to fight back against those profiting at the expense of our health and well-being.”

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