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Central Minnesota Health Care System Consolidating Hospital Resources As COVID Cases Surge

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- A central Minnesota health care system says its consolidating its hospital resources as it faces a rapidly growing number of COVID-19 patients.

CentraCare says that starting next week it'll be shifting its Sauk Centre location to primarily care for COVID patients while the Melrose and Long Prairie locations will become non-COVID hospitals, treating other hospitalized and surgical patients. Meanwhile, the Monticello location will be adding more rooms to care for those battling the virus.

CentraCare officials say that 30 percent of the patients currently in St. Cloud Hospital have COVID-19. The planned shift in resources will allow the system to care for COVID and other patients without overwhelming certain busy locations, such as St. Cloud Hospital.

"When we can utilize our hospitals across the region to provide the appropriate level of care – whether it be for COVID or even surgical services – we are still getting our patients the care they need," said Dr. George Morris, CentraCare's incident command physician, in a statement. "It just might be in a different location than they would normally expect."

Minnesota is currently experiencing a surge in COVID-19 cases as thousands of new infections are reported each day. Hospitalizations are currently at record highs and the state's death toll has now surpassed 3,000.

In response to explosion in cases and hospitalizations, Gov. Tim Walz has issued new restrictions, ordering gyms to close, youth sports seasons to end, and bars and restaurants to only offer take-out. The new restrictions go into effect this weekend and are slated to last for four weeks.

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