The number of flu-related deaths in Minnesota has risen to 4 this season. The Minnesota Department of Health says that 578 people have now been hospitalized since the flu season began in October. During the last week of December there were 226 people hospitalized with confirmed flu cases statewide. The flu has been hitting the local area hard lately as well. Both the Sleepy Eye and Redwood Falls hospitals have implemented restrictions on visitors due to increases in cases of influenza. The New Ulm Medical Center reports that there have been over a hundred people coming to the clinic every day with flu-like illnesses there as well. Minnesota students were on Winter Break during the latest flu report, but prior to that there were flu outbreaks at dozens of schools across the state, including at Jefferson Elementary in New Ulm. The state defines an outbreak as a school’s absentee rate reaching 5% due to the flu, or if 3 or more students in the same elementary classroom are sick.