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Fmr. White House Official Concerned As COVID Cases Surge In MN, But Says Full Shutdown Not Necessary

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Minnesota is coming off of one its worst weeks of positive COVID cases, breaking a record of more than 3,000 new cases in one day. On Sunday, the Minnesota Health Department surpassed 150,000 total cases.

As COVID cases continue to hit new highs, some are questioning if another stay-at-home order is in our future.

Andy Slavitt, a former Obama Administration health care official, who lives in Minnesota, says a full shutdown is not necessary. He says some businesses can operate safely with people spread out, while others cannot.

"There are places that aren't safe and those are places we should focus on until this thing gets better like bars, perhaps churches, certain warehouses and factories," said Slavitt.

Slavitt is most concerned about upcoming Thanksgiving celebrations.

"The reality is we have college kids flying all over the country," said Slavitt, "and it's going to be quite dangerous."

Slavitt urges Minnesotans to keep gatherings small to save future holiday traditions.

"We could done that at 4th of July and had a good Labor Day, we could have done that at Labor Day and had a good Thanksgiving. We have yet to do this one small sacrifice so that things can get better," said Slavitt.

Despite being out of the White House, Slavitt still gets briefed by the coronavirus task force weekly and shares those updates on his Twitter feed.

For perspective on how this surge is impacting Twin Cities hospitals, critical care nurse Emily Allen says the ICU at St. Joseph's Hospital in St. Paul is overwhelmed right now with COVID patients.

"I think I can speak on behalf of a lot of us, we're starting to wear down," said Allen. "I worked two nights ago and we were full our ICU unit was full as well as our med surge unit."

Some of those beds are even being taken by out-of-state COVID patients of all ages.

"We have seen people coming from outside of the state as well coming in from the Dakotas and some from Wisconsin as well," said Allen. "We've got people in their 20s there on ventilators and people in their 80s and 90s on ventilators as well."

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