Minnesota was running out of hospital beds for Covid patients and healthcare workers to care for on Wednesday as the state faced the largest increase in new cases and deaths this year.
Overwhelmingly, the latest victims are unvaccinated Minnesotans who caught the fast-spreading Delta variant, health officials said.
And as the weather gets colder, the potential to catch the virus will only increase as people move inside, they said.
“It is devastating to see the recurring rise in fears that the fall will turn out even worse with cooler weather,” Dr. Sadiya Khan, epidemiologist at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, told NBC News.
With a 59 percent vaccination rate, Minnesota is doing better than its neighbors Wisconsin (57 percent), South Dakota (52 percent) and Iowa (55 percent), and much higher than the North Dakota, where only 45 percent are fully vaccinated, according to figures compiled by the Mayo Clinic.
The national average is 56%, with Vermont leading with 70% of its population fully vaccinated and West Virginia at the bottom with just 41%, according to the Mayo Clinic.
But Minnesota’s 8.3% rate of new infections over the past seven days was among the highest in the country, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“With the amount of virus that exists and the amount of population that is not protected by the vaccine, there is unfortunately a lot of room for the virus to do further harm,” said Jan Malcolm, health commissioner of the State, in a recent news. conference.
The Minneapolis Star-Tribune, one of the state’s leading newspapers, described the current situation as a “punch to public health officials who were hoping that advances in immunization would wipe out the pandemic.”
Khan said the exasperation is understandable.
“Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, we’ve seen outbreaks happening in different states at different times that haven’t always made sense,” Khan said. “These numbers in Minnesota concern me not only for patients with Covid-19, but for all patients with heart disease and cancer who are unable to obtain routine care because health systems are in short supply. their maximum capacity. With an effective vaccine, we shouldn’t have the same conversations that sound like “Groundhog Day.”
Minnesota health officials on Tuesday reported 7,942 more Covid cases and 10 deaths, including nine seniors.
Since the start of the pandemic, Minnesota has recorded 746,768 infections and 8,330 deaths from Covid-19, according to the latest figures from the state’s health department.
But now there are fewer healthcare workers to deal with the crisis than there were at the start of the pandemic, Malcolm said.
“What’s important to understand is that it’s not so much about the physical asset of a hospital bed or a ventilator, and those were big goals earlier in pandemic, but now it’s really an issue of healthcare worker capacity, ”Malcolm mentioned.
Why are they leaving? “Extreme stress and burnout,” said Malcolm.