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With Minnesota Breaking Daily COVID Records, Are Hospitals Ready?

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Health leaders warn that Minnesota is nearing the "explosive growth" in COVID-19 cases seen in neighboring states. Minnesota set a new daily record Thursday of 2,872 cases, and Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm expects that record to soon be broken.

More people are in Minnesota hospitals with COVID right now than at any other point during the pandemic.

"[The phrase] 'Flatten the curve' has to come back," said Helen Strike, the president of both Regina Hospital and River Falls Hospital in the Allina Health system.

Dr. Haylee Veazey, who works in emergency and primary care for Hennepin Healthcare, says the numbers are scary. Malcolm called them alarming. Veazey says more sick patients are coming into the hospital now than earlier this year.

"We have kind of a red status for a few areas and yellow status for a few others, so I think it's probably best to categorize that as we're feeling fuller," she said.

Malcolm says the surge isn't from one or two big events, but from thousands of smaller, individual decisions.

"The more community spread there is, the more concern we have about having caregivers who are able to come to work," Strike said.

The good news is hospitals are better equipped now for COVID patients than when this all started. Treatments have also improved, and Strike says hospital stays can be shorter. She added that we all have the power to fight the pandemic through our behavior.

"It's really the time that we refocus on wearing our masks, watching our distance and washing our hands," Veazey said. "Those things really do work. We've seen it work in other populations and our own population."

Strike says COVID patients released from the hospital aren't necessarily out of the woods. Many still need specialty care and some will have long-term health impacts.

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