With COVID-19 continuing its stranglehold on hospitals and the threat of the rapidly spreading omicron variant on the horizon, doctors and nurses in northern Minnesota are urging residents to get vaccinated.
"We're all tired. We're all exhausted," real doctors and nurses from the Northland say in a 30-second PSA released Monday. "Know that we’re still committed to caring for you. But we need your help."
The ad, which you can watch below, comes from a partnership between Essentia Health, St. Luke’s and St. Louis County Public Health. TV stations KBJR, KDLH, WDIO and FOX21 all agree to donate air time to run the PSA. An audio version will air over the radio at no charge via Midwest Communications and Townsquare Media.
Here's the video PSA:
Story North Productions produced the spot. In it, actual doctors, nurses and public health staff plead with the public to get vaccinated, get a booster, wear a mask in public and socially distance.
"For you, your family, our community," the spot says. "For all of us."
Minnesota as a whole continues to report thousands of new COVID infections and dozens of new deaths every day, despite widespread availability of vaccines that have been shown to drastically reduce the odds of severe illness.
High case numbers have overwhelmed area hospitals, an issue compounded by a long-brewing staffing shortage.
“Our doctors and nurses want to help people and are as committed as ever, but we are also seeing tremendous burnout and we need people to realize just how serious this situation has become,” said St. Luke’s Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Andrew Thompson in a news release.
Amy Westbrook, director of St. Louis County's Public Health Division, in a news release called it a "crisis situation."
"None of this is easy, and we’re all tired and want to be done with this," she said. "But as long as we’re dealing with a highly contagious virus, we need everyone’s cooperation to move past this.”
As of Monday, hospitals in northeast Minnesota reported having one single staffed adult ICU bed available. In northwestern Minnesota, not a single staffed adult ICU bed was available.
“COVID is real and it is dangerous. Limited bed availability in our hospitals is also real and dangerous," said Louie St. George III, public relations manager at Essentia Health. "The vast majority of our COVID patients are unvaccinated. We can do better; we must do better. Our healthcare workers, who have given so much of themselves over the past 21 months, are mentally, physically and emotionally exhausted. Please, do your part to slow the spread of COVID-19 and prevent unnecessary strain on our health care resources — and unnecessary suffering."