Coronavirus in Minnesota: Walz, well being care officers urge vaccinations as hospitalizations proceed to rise

On Tuesdays, MinnPost provides weekly updates on COVID-19 developments in Minnesota from Wednesday through today.

On the COVID-19 news this week

Ahead of Thanksgiving weekend, state health officials said Tuesday that Minnesota hospitals were dangerously full, urging people to get vaccinations, get booster vaccinations and reduce behavior that puts them at high risk of COVID-19 receive.

Jennifer DeCubelis, CEO of Hennepin Healthcare, told reporters that “the demand for emergency and life-saving care has exceeded our capacity.”

“We need all Minnesotans now to stand up, stand together and protect our limited and vital emergency resources as best we can so that no one in Minnesota is faced with life-threatening hardship without the best care and recovery support immediately available. “Said DeCubelis.

Hennepin Healthcare, which operates HCMC in downtown Minneapolis, is Minnesota’s largest high-end trauma center for adults and children and has unparalleled expertise in emergency care. Providers across the state rely on their expertise and many in need of life saving assistance across the state are flown to Hennepin Healthcare.

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“If we go over capacity, it doesn’t mean people will be turned away,” DeCubelis said. “That means we stretch our team members. It means we use other skills that access to care can take longer, it means that rural Minnesota hospitals are holding onto care that they don’t have a little longer until they have someone where they need to be. “

Governor Tim Walz was at the HCMC on Tuesday as the hospital welcomes a 23-person medical team from the Department of Defense to help with staff shortages. The St. Cloud Hospital is also getting a team.

Jan Malcolm, the MDH commissioner, said HCMC and St. Cloud Hospital are not the only medical systems that need it. “Pretty much every hospital in the state is in dire shape when it comes to how thin they are and how hard their staff have been working for over 20 months.”

A special session in the game?

Walz also downplayed the possibility of a special session on Tuesday even after Senate Majority Leader Jeremy Miller, R-Winona said Republicans could step back from threats to fire Malcolm if the two sides reach an agreement on other measures related to the pandemic.

Senate Majority Leader Jeremy Miller

Walz, Senate Republicans, and House Majority Democrats have been negotiating for months how to distribute $ 250 million in bonuses to frontline pandemic workers, approve drought grants for Minnesota farmers, and pass other measures that will increase hospital and capacity facilities are intended to support long-term care.

But the GOP has indicated they might try to remove Malcolm from her post. The Senate can vote confirm or not confirm, Members of the Walz cabinet.

“We made an offer yesterday that we believe may bring us to a special session and address many of the concerns we hear from the Minnesotans,” Miller told Minnesota Public Radio. “And if we can reach agreement on the areas outlined in this letter, Senate Republicans would be ready to withdraw any discussion of commissioners for a special session.”

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Despite this change in attitude, Walz said many of the things he wanted for a pandemic response should prepare Minnesota for a winter rise in cases and would have been more helpful two months ago. “I think one of the things that lawmakers are missing is that real life goes on,” said Walz.

The governor said he was focused on other ways the state can respond to the surge in COVID-19, such as expanding testing, vaccinations and convening federal defense teams.

Walz did not close the door completely in a special session, but said, “We kind of went beyond it,” at least when it comes to easing some regulatory requirements for medical systems.

Governor Tim Walz and MDH Commissioner Jan Malcolm speak during Tuesday's press conference at the HCMC.

MinnPost photo by Walker Orenstein

Governor Tim Walz and MDH Commissioner Jan Malcolm speak during Tuesday’s press conference at the HCMC.

On Monday, Miller outlined a number of priorities in a special session, including up to $ 200 million in federal funding to help long-term care centers suffering from labor shortages and laws banning “government-issued COVID-19 vaccination orders.” Walz cannot order full vaccine mandates, but most government employees must either get vaccinated or have regular COVID-19 tests.

Miller also said he met with Malcolm last week and had a good conversation with the commissioner.

Walz spokesman Teddy Tschann said the state is one of the largest employers in Minnesota and the governor would not agree to give up power on vaccine mandates for state employees. Walz also said Monday he would spend $ 50 million in federal funding on hiring and retaining staff in long-term care facilities. Legislature allocated $ 500 million in federal funding to Walz in June.

Meanwhile, House spokeswoman Melissa Hortman, DFL-Brooklyn Park, told MPR earlier in the day that Miller’s comments represented a “big step forward” toward a special session. Still, she said there wasn’t much time left before lawmakers met for their regular term, so a special session may still not take place.

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Data from the Minnesota Department of Health shows that the state added 29,577 new COVID-19 cases in the seven days between November 17 and Tuesday, an average of 4,225 new cases per day. That’s a slight decrease from a daily average of 4,484 new cases the week before. At the height of the pandemic in late November 2020, Minnesota was recording an average of more than 7,000 new cases per day.

The last seven-day average of case positivity – or the average percentage of positive cases out of total COVID-19 tests – is 11 percent, well above the “high risk threshold” set by state health officials for spreading COVID. This rate has also increased from 10.3 percent the week before. You can find the 7 day average case positivity Here.

As of October 17, the latest available data, there have been 83,933 documented “breakthrough” cases of COVID-19 among fully vaccinated Minnesotans. That is 2.57 percent of the fully vaccinated population. The state also reports 3,638 hospital admissions for people with breakthrough cases and 620 deaths.

People who are fully vaccinated are far less likely to develop a severe case of COVID-19.

Deaths and hospitalizations

Minnesota added 182 new COVID-19 deaths in the past week from 165 the week before. (The deaths did not necessarily occur the week they were reported because deaths are not always reported and confirmed immediately.)

COVID-19 hospital stays in Minnesota continue to rise. As of Tuesday, there were 320 people with COVID-19 in the intensive care unit, while 1,109 were being admitted to the hospital rather than the intensive care unit. Last Tuesday, 307 were in the intensive care unit and 1,041 were in the hospital and not in the intensive care unit. At the height of the surge in Minnesota last winter, nearly 400 people with coronavirus were in intensive care.

Learn more about current Minnesota hospital admissions Here.

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The latest data shows that 65 percent of Minnesotans (3.616 million people) had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, while 60.1 percent of Minnesotans (3.343 million people) had completed the vaccine series. A week ago, 63.8 percent of Minnesotans had received at least one dose and 59.9 had completed the vaccination series. More Data on the country’s vaccination efforts can be found here.

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