MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — New numbers from the state show the flu is spreading in Minnesota. The Minnesota Department of Health has determined that influenza is currently widespread across the state.

It’s claimed the lives of six people in the state now, and 262 people have gone to the hospital. That’s nearly 100 more than reported the week before. School outbreaks have surged from 55 to 123.

Experts say the flu started showing up in Minnesota in early December, which is normal. Now, it’s starting to hit with a vengeance.

M Health Fairview and Allina Health hospitals are enforcing temporary visitor restrictions to protect their communities during the flu season. Both hospitals are prohibiting children under the age of five from entering their facilities for the time being. They’re also asking anyone who is sick to avoid visiting patients.

The restrictions are in effect at M Health Fairview University of Minnesota Medical Center, as well as its Masonic Children’s Hospital.

Allina Health hospitals on the list include:

  • Abbott Northwestern Hospital, Minneapolis
  • Buffalo Hospital
  • Cambridge Medical Center
  • Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute, Golden Valley
  • District One Hospital, Faribault
  • Mercy Hospital, Coon Rapids
  • Mercy Hospital – Unity Campus, Fridley
  • New Ulm Medical Center
  • Owatonna Hospital
  • Phillips Eye Institute, Minneapolis
  • Regina Hospital, Hastings
  • River Falls Area Hospital, River Falls, Wis.
  • St. Francis Regional Medical Center, Shakopee
  • United Hospital, St. Paul

Visitors at Allina Health’s birth center units may be screened for illness before entering.

To avoid getting sick, health experts are advising people to cover their coughs and wash their hands. Doctors say the best thing you can do is get a flu shot.

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