CHICAGO — The dangerous cold and heavy snow that hobbled the northern U.S. this week has retreated, but not before exacting a human toll: more than two dozen weather-related deaths in eight states and hundreds of injuries, including frostbite, broken bones, heart attacks and carbon monoxide poisoning.

In Illinois alone, hospitals reported more than 220 cases of frostbite and hypothermia since Tuesday, when the polar vortex moved in and overnight temperatures plunged to minus 30 or lower – with wind chills of minus 50 or worse in some areas.

Hennepin Healthcare in Minneapolis normally sees around 30 frostbite patients in an entire winter. It admitted 28 in the past week, spokeswoman Christine Hill said Friday.

“I definitely saw more frostbite than I’ve ever seen in my entire career just in the last three days,” said Dr. Andrea Rowland-Fischer, an emergency department physician.

Most of those patients, she said, had underlying problems that made it difficult for them to take care of themselves: the developmentally delayed, the mentally ill, the very young and the very old. They also included people with injuries related to drugs and alcohol – people who passed out or did not realize they were cold or injured.

Others got frostbite on their way to work after being exposed to the cold for a short time – including on their hands, feet, ears and face. That included people whose cars wouldn’t start or who got stuck outside, as well as those who just didn’t think they could get frostbitten so quickly.

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