MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minnesota’s COVID cases are approaching levels of what they were last summer.

As doctors and public health officials try to battle the current surge, there’s word “things are going to get worse” with a new more potent variant — the Delta plus.

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The summer of 2021 is proving to be a bad case of deja vu.

COVID cases in all key categories, including hospitalizations and ICU patients, are approaching last year’s levels.

“It’s so concerning. I’m scared for my patients, I’m scared for my co-workers,” nurse Emily Allen said.

Allen has been treating seriously ill COVID patients for over a year. She may not send her three children, all under 7, back to school.

“Kids are really resilient, but this is something that we’ve never, ever had to deal with before,” she said.

As we are dealing with the surge in the Delta variant comes word of new strains, including the Delta plus. There are now 71 cases of the Delta plus here in Minnesota. Doctors say so far it’s affecting patients the same way the Delta variant is.

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Eighty-two percent of Minnesota cases are the Delta variant. At least 80% of the cases are in unvaccinated people.

“People need to think of it as something new. It’s not the COVID we were dealing with a year ago. The hospitalization rate is much higher,” Kris Ehresmann, the director of infectious disease at the Minnesota Department of Health, said.

MDH is currently evaluating new guidance, including for large events like the State Fair, even for those who are vaccinated.

“I think if you are someone who is in a high risk group or perhaps immuno-compromised you may want to reconsider if you want to be engaged in that kind of an activity,” Ehresmann said.

A Mayo Clinic expert says it’s important not to think of breakthrough cases as a failure of the vaccine, because the symptoms in vaccinated people are overwhelmingly mild.

“Most people who are vaccinated who get sick, even with the Delta variant, have little to no symptoms, a milder case of COVID-19 to an asymptomatic infection,” Dr. Jack O’Horo said.

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All of the experts we spoke with agree: the most important thing people can do is get vaccinated and get their eligible kids vaccinated.

Esme Murphy