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Walz, frontline workers to address Minnesotans Monday afternoon as hospitalizations surge

The state's health care systems are getting stretched "dangerously" thin.

Frontline workers will join Gov. Tim Walz and the Minnesota Department of Health on Monday to urge Minnesotans to take COVID-19 seriously as the healthcare system is on the brink of becoming overwhelmed.

They'll all speak at a news conference at 2 p.m. Monday in which they'll "urge Minnesotans to take steps to combat the spread of COVID-19," a news release says.

Related: Gov. Walz tells Minnesotans: The time to beat COVID-19 is now

This comes as novel coronavirus cases in Minnesota continues its surge. On Sunday, MDH reported 7,559 new cases, pushing the state's active case count total to more than 50,000. There were also 31 more deaths. 

Meanwhile, hospitalizations are also surging. Through Nov. 12, the number of people with COVID-19 hospitalized in Minnesota is 1,424, which marks an all-time high. To put that into perspective, there were 580 people hospitalized with COVID-19 just over three weeks ago (Oct. 24).

And that doesn't include hospitalizations for non-COVID reasons, such as strokes, heart attacks, car crashes and other emergencies. 

Hospitals stretched 'dangerously' thin

Rising hospitalizations and unchecked community spread of the virus is what is so concerning to frontline workers and state health officials. 

Health officials have said they have the ability to create more space for COVID-19 patients and they have the supplies to do so. But they've warned that they don't have the staff to care for the sickest people.

"We are at a pivotal moment in this pandemic. Health care resources are stretched dangerously thin just as demand for care is spiking," Dr. John Pryor, president of Duluth-based Essentia Health's East Market said during a news conference last week. "Our ability to staff medical and ICU beds is being tested. If the current trajectory of transmission holds, our communities will be at risk."

Widespread community spread of the virus is forcing doctors and nurses to stay home from work because they've been exposed, they're caring for someone who is sick or they are sick themselves. This is leaving fewer health care workers to care for the rising number of patients, and the doctors and nurses who are left are getting burned out. 

In other states, like North Dakota, the situation has gotten so bad that healthcare workers who've been exposed to the virus or are asymptomatic are asked to work

To help limit the spread of COVID-19, all Minnesotans have to do is follow the guidelines health experts have been stressing for months – wear a mask, wash your hands, socially distance, avoid social gatherings, stay home if you're sick or have been exposed to COVID-19, and get tested.

Related: Experts say stay home this Thanksgiving, 'bubble' before if you'll go anyway

There are pandemic naysayers, but the words of healthcare workers on the front lines and people who are experiencing it first or second hand are undeniable. Click here to read some of their stories.  

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