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Minnesota healthcare providers are asking for the public’s help as COVID-19 cases increase and hospital bed capacity becomes limited.

On Friday, the Minnesota Department of Health reported that 1,245 people in the state were currently hospitalized with COVID-19, up from 990 last week. Of those patients, 296 were in intensive care and 949 were in non-ICU care. It's the highest level of COVID-19 hospitalizations in Minnesota since Dec. 15, 2020, which was the day the first dose of a vaccine was administered in the state. 

CentraCare, which operates hospitals in central Minnesota, issued a statement Friday emphasizing the strain rising cases is putting on its facilities. At CentraCare’s St. Cloud Hospital, patients are currently waiting hours for care, according to the release.

And the CentraCare system is also experiencing staffing shortages as the pandemic creates new challenges for healthcare professionals.

"We have been working for more than 20 months to care for you, your families and friends during this pandemic. We are committed to helping every patient who needs us — a responsibility that has been much harder lately," Ken Holmen, CEO and president of CentraCare, said in a statement.

CentraCare urged people to get vaccinated and practice social distancing and mask-wearing to help reign in the latest rise in COVID-19 cases.

The release also asks those with a healthcare background to consider working in the field.

“If you have any health care experience or licensure and would be willing to return to work or volunteer, please consider it,” it reads.

HealthPartners, headquartered in Bloomington, is also asking people to get vaccinated. Its hospital system is reporting the highest number of patients since December 2020. 

"This spike is bad. It's scary, but it would be so much worse, especially with many many more hospitalizations and deaths, if it weren't for the fact that most Minnesotans now do have the protection of the vaccine," Minnesota health commissioner Jan Malcolm said this week. 

"But many people, close to 40% of our state, are still not protected. We need all Minnesotans to recognize the fact that in a pandemic storm like this one caused by the delta variant, individual decisions have implications. Implications not only for the person but for their families, their communities and in fact the entire state." 

Last week, Essentia Health told Bring Me The News that all 45 of the ICU beds at St. Mary's Hospital in Duluth were occupied, with more than quarter of them COVID-19 patients. 

Hennepin County Medical Center and Allina Health also confirmed to BMTN that they were dealing with high levels of ICU patients that were straining facilities. 

There were just 38 staffed ICU beds available in the state as of Friday. 

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