‘Situation is critical’: Minnesota hospitals plead for people to get vaccinated

Enlarge / A man prays at the bedside of his wife, who is intubated and remains critically ill after COVID infection in the South Seven Intensive Care Unit on Wednesday, December 8, 2021 at North Memorial Health Hospital in Robbinsdale, Minn.

Nine Minnesota Hospital Systems Released a common letter On Sunday, saying that all their beds are full, doctors and nurses are overwhelmed and demoralized, and their ability to provide care is threatened.

“We are heartbroken, we are overwhelmed … The situation is critical,” they wrote in the letter, which ran as full-page ads in newspapers across the state. It was signed by executives from Allina Health, Children’s Minnesota, CentraCare, Essentia Health, Fairview Health Services, HealthPartners, Hennepin Healthcare, Mayo Clinic and North Memorial Health.

Minnesota currently has the third highest rate of new daily COVID-19 infections of any state in the United States, with 76 cases per 100,000 people. Cases have increased 24% in the past two weeks, and they are expected to continue to rise. Testing positivity in North Star state is currently above 11%, and only 64% of the state is fully vaccinated.

Hospitalizations have already reached record levels for 2021, with a seven-day average of over 1,770 and increasing. The state’s all-time high hospitalization record was set last December at just over 2,000. As of Friday, only 13 of the state’s 1,012 adult intensive care beds in the state were available, according to the Star Tribune.

“Our emergency departments are overloaded and we have patients in every bed in our hospitals,” the letter continued from the health systems. As their facilities are overrun with “preventable” cases of COVID-19, the crash has threatened other care, including for heart attacks, car accidents, strokes, cancer and appendicitis, they warn.

Stop the spread

“How can we as a society stand by and watch people die when a single gunshot could prevent a deadly disease? Your access to healthcare is seriously threatened by COVID-19. We must stop the spread! The letter reads. It ends with a call for people to get vaccinated and boosted, wear masks, distance themselves socially, and encourage others to take these precautions as well.

Minnesota isn’t alone in being inundated with COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. The Midwestern and Northeastern states are seeing numbers skyrocket, which are only expected to worsen with the holiday season. At least four states have already called on the National Guard to help ease the burden of patients: Maine, New York, New Hampshire and Indiana.

Nationally, daily new cases hover around 120,000, a 43% increase over two weeks. Hospitalizations are approaching 66,000, an increase of 23% from two weeks ago. Across the pandemic, the United States is approaching a total of 50 million COVID-19 cases and 800,000 deaths.

Almost all cases in the United States are currently due to the variant of the delta coronavirus, which is hypertransmissible. But experts are anxiously watching for the spread of the omicron variant, which appears to be spreading even faster and can bypass protective antibodies from previous infections and two doses of the vaccine. Experts say a booster dose can restore high levels of protection, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is urging all people aged 16 and over to receive a booster dose.

About Chris Stevenson

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