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Upper Midwest faces spike in COVID-19 infections: "It's unprecedented"

Rising COVID cases strain Minnesota hospitals
Rising COVID cases strain Minnesota hospitals 02:14

The nation is currently facing an alarming COVID-19 spike, with average daily cases jumping 35% in recent weeks, according to the CDC. The upper Midwest has seen the largest surge in infections, with one doctor calling the situation "unprecedented." 

"I have never seen so many people on a ventilator at one time," said Dr. Joshua Huelster, a critical care physician at Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis. 

Huelster's ICU is full. The hospital system has 328 COVID patients, and most of the 66 ICU COVID patients are on ventilators. 

Huelster said the reason for the surge is clear: the unvaccinated. 

"The vast majority of patients that we see in the ICU are not vaccinated," he said. 

COVID cases in Minnesota are up 47% in the last week compared to the week before. Hospital admissions jumped 24%, with the largest increase among those ages 30 to 49. 

Susan Rutten, who is not vaccinated, spent a week in a rural Minnesota hospital. 

"I feel bad taking up a bed if someone needs it worse than I do," she said. She is now home, and said she plans to get the vaccine. 

As cases rise nationwide, CBS News has learned that the FDA is considering authorizing boosters for all adults for both Pfizer and Moderna as soon as Thursday. But just over 31% of the country is still unvaccinated. 

Huelster said he's worried about the toll more COVID cases will take — not only on patients, but also on the staff that cares for them. 

"I'm not angry at people who don't get vaccinated," Huelster said. "Some of my colleagues get very angry about it. I'm not angry about it. I'm disappointed." 

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