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After experiencing a record high number of COVID-19 hospitalizations for 2021 on Tuesday, the Minnesota Department of Health announced the state set another new record high on Wednesday. 

COVID-19 hospitalizations have grown dramatically over the past week, rising from 980 last Thursday to 990 on Friday and 1,122 on Monday. But they increased further Tuesday, with the latest data from the state showing 1,159 patients admitted to a hospital with COVID-19. 

Fortunately, the state's staffed ICU bed availability increased day-to-day, going from a pandemic low 31 beds in Tuesday's report to 42 in the latest update. ICU bed availability is affected by all ailments, not just COVID-19, in addition to staffing levels. 

But the situation remains tight across the state. 

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At Essentia Health-St. Mary's Medical Center in Duluth on Tuesday, all 45 of the hospital's ICU beds were occupied, including 13 patients with COVID-19. 

"While our ICU is at capacity, we are committed to caring for all our patients. Throughout the pandemic, we have remained committed to caring for all patients, and that remains the case today, even when facing capacity concerns," a spokesperson from Essentia Health told Bring Me The News. 

The spokesperson said community transmission of the virus is high throughout the region and healthcare workers "have worked tirelessly to keep our patients, many of whom are critically ill, safe." 

"The need for vaccination remains crucial, as it has been proven to be the safest and most effective way out of the pandemic," the spokesperson added.

According to the state's COVID-19 dashboard, there are currently 257 COVID-19 patients in the ICU and 902 more receiving non-ICU care. The last time Minnesota had this many people hospitalized with COVID-19 was mid-December 2020. 

The high point of the entire pandemic in Minnesota was Nov. 30, 2020, when there were 1,848 hospitalizations. Keep in mind that the state is reaching hospitalization levels not seen since the first vaccines were jabbed into arms in Minnesota. The first person to receive a COVID vaccine in Minnesota was Dec. 15, 2020. 

The bulk of hospitalized patients now are unvaccinated. According to Sanford Health, which operates 22 hospitals in the region, just 21 of the 184 COVID patients they are caring for are vaccinated – and only five of 61 ICU patients are vaccinated.  

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The ICU rate between the vaccinated and unvaccinated COVID patients at Allina Health hospitals is the same as Sanford Health: 5 of 61. However, about 25% of all hospitalized COVID patients at Allina Health facilities are vaccinated (75 of 297). 

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Hennepin County Medical Center didn't provide Bring Me The News specific numbers, but did confirm Tuesday that it "has been experiencing higher than average patient volumes — sometimes to the point of near-capacity." 

HCMC is utilizing the Critical Care Coordination Center to connect patients with beds in order to "level-load the region and the state hospital bed capacity." The same coordination efforts were used during past COVID-19 surges. 

The Minnesota Department of Health continues to urge Minnesotans to get vaccinated or receive a booster shot once eligible, in addition to wearing a mask in public indoor settings and staying home when sick. 

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