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More than 200 medical professionals are headed to Minnesota to help hospitals that are overwhelmed amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gov. Tim Walz on Friday said a fourth federal medical team of 23 doctors and nurses will arrive this weekend to provide support at Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis. 

Meanwhile, more than 200 nurses and respiratory therapists are coming to Minnesota to provide short-term care at hospitals that are grappling with outbreaks of COVID among staff.

The governor says this will help expand hospital capacity at a time when there are few ICU beds available. As the COVID cases surged with the omicron variant, hospitals filled up. Walz said as of Wednesday, hospitals in Minnesota were treating more than 1,540 COVID-19 patients, which is 50% more than a month ago.

“The Omicron variant has been incredibly difficult for our hospitals, who are treating a surge of patients while dealing with COVID-19 outbreaks among their employees,” Walz said in a news release. “They asked for help, and we are providing it by bringing in more short-term emergency personnel to relieve our exhausted hospital staff."

The federal medical team will arrive on Saturday and be at Abbott Northwestern for 30 days to help care for patients and relieve hospital staff. 

Federal medical teams previously helped out at Hennepin County Medical Center, M Health Fairview Southdale Hospital and St. Cloud Hospital.

In addition, Walz said a total of 201 registered nurses and respiratory therapists are coming to Minnesota to work at 32 hospitals around the state. 

The first wave of 106 medical professionals arrived last week and another 95 have signed on to provide care in Minnesota. Walz is using $40 million in federal American Rescue Plan money to pay these workers, who will work up to 60 hours per week for 60 days. 

The Minnesota Department of Health will direct these medical teams to hospitals that are in the most need of emergency support, a news release says. 

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