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Arenas, stadiums to supplement hospitals during COVID-19 outbreak in Minnesota

It's not yet known which stadiums and arenas will be utilized.

Minnesotans were finally given an idea of just how large the novel coronavirus outbreak could get in Minnesota as Gov. Tim Walz issued a stay-at-home order that will go into effect for two weeks beginning Friday at 11:59 p.m. 

The good news is that Minnesotans have done very well with community mitigation and social distancing to the point that the peak of the epidemic has been pushed out. The bad news is that tens of thousands of Minnesotans could require hospitalization over the course of the next 150 days. 

Wednesday was Day 4 of the forecast, so the 150th day is August 18. 

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The peak of the outbreak is expected in approximately 14 weeks (the final week of June), but that's only if Minnesotans continue to follow mitigation and suppression orders as well as continually practice social distancing. 

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"The only thing we're able to flatten is the ICU usage and its capacity. We're still going see, somewhere around Day 150 or so, 2 million of us would've had this at one time or another, 85 percent recover, 15 percent hospitalized, 5 percent in ICU," said Walz. 

To prepare for the heavy volume of Minnesotans who will need to be hospitalized with COVID-19 symptoms, state leaders are preparing stadiums and arenas to serve as additional space for patients. 

"We assembled our planning team yesterday and today we brought in a very important group of experts from the statewide healthcare coordination group," said Joe Kelly. "They bring a tremendous amount of knowledge, experience, existing plans and other resources to our work to identity alternate care sites which will supplement our hospitals, and most importantly our capacity to care for the most critically ill. 

"Our goal is to ID sites around the state, obtain the equipment and supplies to operate them and then bring in the healthcare professionals that can take care of the patients." 

"We are working all three elements simultaneously as fast as we can," said Kelly, who noted that determining the sites is the No. 1 priority at the moment. 

It has not yet been announced which stadiums and arenas around Minnesota will be used to supplement hospitals. Walz has previously said that the Mall of America has offered space for emergency use.

Walz said the models show that 74,000 Minnesotans could die if zero mitigation strategies were employed.

That staggering number could be reduced "drastically" if Minnesotans follow the mitigation and suppression orders, but Walz did not provide a range of how many Minnesotans are expected to die in a best-case scenario.

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