ARDEN HILLS, Minn.--For the last few days Ashlea Caldwell has had a stuffy head. As a preschool teacher she knows a cough could mean bad news. So on Wednesday she went into Urgent Care. Getting in wasn't easy.
"I stopped somewhere else on my way in and there was a three hour wait there so I thought it would be a little while but not that long," Caldwell said of her two hour wait.
Waiting times at other clinics and emergency rooms are surpassing the two hour mark too. Some places reported a 4 hour wait period at peak times with many people coming in with symptoms of the flu. If you think people are getting sick more, it's not just in your head.
"The activity that we're seeing is very vigorous," Kris Ehresmann, director of immunizations for the Minnesota Department of Health, said.
The flu season started earlier than usual and it's on track to be perhaps the highest since the H1N1 outbreak in 2009. So far 600 people have been hospitalized, according to the Department of Health.
"Everything we've been hearing from our partners suggests that things are very busy and our own data shows that there's an upward trend. There's potential that this could be a significant season for us," Ehresmann said.
Judy Kuczenski, a nurse practitioner with HealthPartners sees each about 20 patients a day. In recent weeks nearly half of the people she treats had symptoms of the flu. She sends most patients home not with medicine, but a prescription to drink lots of fluid and get some rest.
"Wash your hands, wash your hands, wash your hands. Cover your cough and just stay home if you're sick," Kuczenski said.