April 24, 2024

Health data collection: COVID-19 in deer, emergency visits for children related to cannabis

This week’s collection of health data includes mostly good news on COVID-19 in humans, but bad news for COVID-19 in deer.

As the state approaches quickly On August 1st recreational marijuana was legalized, we also look at some newly published national research that suggests parents need to be careful with cannabis storage, as well as the downward trend in marijuana use among Minnesota teenagers.

COVID-19: Mainly good news for humans

The latest weekly data from the Minnesota Department of Health shows continued low levels of the circulation and impact of COVID-19, although the other hospitalizations and deaths related to COVID are certainly serious for individuals and their families.

New hospital admissions with COVID-19 have increased slightly in the Department’s latest data, with 12 admissions reported on July 13 – the first day with double-digit COVID-19 admissions since late May. COVID-19 admissions are still well below the regular levels of 50 per day reported at the beginning of the year.

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The Minnesota Department of Health reported a slight increase in hospital admissions with COVID-19 for the week ending July 13.

David H. Montgomery

This increase appears to be relatively small. In fact, MDH reported zero intensive care admissions with COVID-19 in three days during the most recent week, ending July 13. the latest mortality data from the health departmentshowing three days with zero deaths related to COVID-19 in the week ending June 29 (death data lags behind hospital data).

The health department is exhibiting until July 9, 27.2 percent of Minnesotans are up to date on their COVID-19 vaccines, led by the 68.9 percent of those age 65 or older who are up-to-date. Vaccination rates have barely budged in recent months.

COVID-19 in wastewater remains at very low levels, despite recent increases

Data from metro treatment plants show that the average weekly RNA viral load in wastewater continues to fluctuate, as of the week ending July 16, according to the City Council and the University of Minnesota Genomics Center. But the overall levels are still very low.

The IS University of Minnesota parallel statewide wastewater analysis. Some show relative increases across the state, as of July 9, but overall levels in the study’s seven regions remain low.

Levels of COVID-19 in wastewater entering treatment plants in the North West and North East regions increased by more than 100 percent in the previous four weeks. But the North West region saw a 50 point drop over the previous week. The North East region only saw a 17 per cent increase on the previous week.

The study’s South Central region saw a 90 percent increase in wastewater COVID-19 levels in the previous week after a monthly drop in levels of nearly 60 percent. Similarly, the South East region increased by 58 percent compared to the previous week after a monthly decline of almost 50 percent.

See the latest Minnesota COVID-19 data

COVID-19: Not so good news for tail debt

While the recent wastewater, hospitalization and mortality data for people in Minnesota caused little concern, one new study piqued our interest. As reported in the latest “Osterholm Update” from the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy the US Department of Agriculture released a major new study showing the transmission of COVID-19 among red-tailed deer. According to the department“Our research shows that SARS-CoV-2 was transmitted from humans to deer, mutated and could be transmitted back to humans.”

They are quick to point out that “there is no evidence that animals play a significant role in the spread of the virus to humans.” However, in the agriculture department’s video accompanying the study, Minnesota State Wildlife Services Director Gary Nohrenberg notes “the implications of that disease [COVID-19] impact may be more immediate [deer hunting] as a recreational sport for many hunters across the country.”

The federal agency resource page on this study shows that 100 of the 860 deer examined in Minnesota tested positive for COVID-19.

A study published by the CDC last week on cannabis-related emergency department visits among youth and young adults has potential implications for Minnesota as recreational marijuana becomes legal in the state on August 1.

It was previously known that cannabis-related emergency department visits for youth aged 0-14 increased nationally before 2019 as more states legalized cannabis. The recent study also shows significant increases in cannabis-related emergency visit rates for children 10 years of age and younger, as seen in the graph below. The same was true for young people aged 11-14 and it was particularly evident among female children in that age group.

What is driving this increase? The reasons are not known for sure, but among children aged 10 and younger, the authors of the study suggest that the abundance of edibles containing THC, many packaged in a way that may appeal to children, is probably behind this bump. And, during the pandemic, because children had to stay at home, there was probably a greater chance of accidentally ingesting edibles in the home.

So, readers, if you choose to eat edibles, store them safely – especially if there are children around.

Among 11- to 14-year-olds, the study’s authors note that young teens likely turned to cannabis to help cope with pandemic-related stress, citing additional research on mental health and coping mechanisms in young people during the pandemic.

The study looked at national data and, unfortunately, doesn’t break it out by state or region so we can’t know how Minnesota youth fared in the parameters of this specific study. But we looked at data on the use of marijuana from the Minnesota Student Surveyadministered every three years, to provide some additional context.

According to these data, the percentage of Minnesota middle and high school students who reported using marijuana or hashish at least once in the previous 12 months decreased from 2013 to 2022. This was especially true among 11th graders: eight percent fewer students reported using marijuana in 2022 than 2013. For ninth graders – seven percent less.

These data suggest a decline in cannabis use among youth in Minnesota, but we do not have the data to see if cannabis-related emergency visits follow national trends. One finding that holds up from the national study – marijuana use appears to be slightly higher among Minnesota female teens in 2022 compared to male teens.

For example, in 2022, 18 percent of young women in the 11th grade compared to 15 percent of young men reported having used marijuana at least once. This is a change from 2013 when marijuana use was higher among young men in the 11th grade (22 percent of young women reported using marijuana at least once in the previous year compared to 28 percent of young men).

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