[ST. PAUL, MN] – Governor Tim Walz today announced new actions to help control the spread of COVID-19. Turning the dial back, Governor Walz announced a four-week pause on social activities, in-person dining, sports, and fitness establishments for four weeks. What Minnesota’s health care leaders are saying:

More than 1,000 Minnesota physicians and providers said in a letter, “We are seeing an exponential rise in new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in Minnesota. The growth is so rapid that health care systems are pushed to the brink. Daily, there is a scramble to find ICU beds and staff, non-emergent surgeries are delayed, emergency rooms are overwhelmed, and the transfer of patients in need of life-saving care between hospitals is increasingly challenging. This is true for COVID-19 patients and patients with other conditions.”

“While mortality rates have decreased for COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic, the risk of dying increases quickly if access to care is limited. This has been repeatedly demonstrated with health care systems that fall under strain. Minnesota’s health care system is presently under significant strain.”

David Herman, MD, CEO of Essentia Health

“Essentia Health is grateful for Gov. Walz’s commitment to limiting the spread of COVID-19 at a time when resources are stretched to, or beyond, capacity at health care systems across the state. These actions will help protect our front-line workers, who are working tirelessly to provide care for our communities, as well as protecting members of the broader community. We understand these are significant sacrifices for people to make, especially as the holidays approach, but these actions are necessary to help us slow community transmission of this virus.”

Mary C. Turner, RN, Minnesota Nurses Association President

“Minnesota nurses strongly support the steps Governor Walz and Lieutenant Governor Flanagan are taking to dial back. These measures are a necessary step in saving lives and curtailing hospitalizations in the coming weeks. Right now, beds are scarce. Nurse staffing is at its limit. Immediate relief is needed. We hope that this is the next step and not the only step in addressing the crisis we’re in. Nurses are asking that everyone heed the guidance of the administration by following these new restrictions, masking up, and spending the holidays with those who live in your immediate household. The safety of Minnesotans rests on it.”

Dr. Kenneth Holmen, CentraCare President & CEO

“We understand that turning up the dial on safety measures isn’t what any of us would normally prefer. But these are not normal times. They are extraordinary times in the devastating way they are impacting the health and livelihood of Minnesotans. It is taking its toll on our communities, citizens, businesses, schools and families and we share that burden. We have reached a critical moment when everyone – not just health care workers – must come together to help each other move through the tough days ahead. Addressing this critical problem will hasten what everyone is looking for – a new day full of promise as the vaccine is rolled out. Coming together to solve big problems is what we do when we are at our best.”

Rahul Koranne, MD, MBA, FACP, President and CEO of Minnesota Hospital Association

“Minnesota’s hospitals and health systems are increasingly concerned as they work tirelessly to respond to the rapidly growing number of hospitalizations in communities across the state. The current explosive level of community transmission of COVID-19 in Minnesota means that our health care heroes – including nurses, physicians, therapists, pharmacists, support services, housekeeping, technicians, advanced practice providers and many more – are contracting COVID-19 as they go about their daily lives in our neighborhoods. We appreciate that Governor Walz is taking action to reduce and prevent community spread to ensure that we have care teams in our hospitals to take care of Minnesotans who need us, day and night. We each must do our part to protect our health care heroes, our family members and our communities.”

Penny Wheeler, MD, CEO of Allina Health

“As a health care provider, we fully support these new measures. Our hospitals are filling up quickly and staff are becoming ill through community spread. We are at a critical point to try and regain control of the spread of COVID-19. Our incredible health care providers are doing heroic things every day to provide care under exceptional circumstances, but they cannot do it alone. We need the public to do their part as everyday heroes by making choices that will slow the spread of the virus. Coming together to solve big problems is what we do when we are at our best.”

Marilyn Peitso, MD, Minnesota Medical Association President

“The Minnesota Medical Association strongly supports the virus control measures enacted today by Governor Walz. The uncontrolled spread of COVID-19 throughout the state is taking a toll on patients, families, and health care workers struggling to meet the demand for both COVID-related care and other critical and necessary care. The need for these actions is clear and the opportunity to limit them is in the hands of Minnesotans. Please help us – stay home, limit your social contacts, wear a mask, get tested if you have symptoms or believe you have been exposed. On behalf of the physicians of Minnesota, please help us as we work to provide care for all who need it.”

James Hereford, President and CEO of Fairview Health Systems

“For nearly 9 months, our medical professionals have been working day and night to care for Minnesotans impacted by COVID. They are exhausted, but their commitment to caring for their fellow citizens is unwavering. They are truly heroes. But even heroes have limits, and the rampant community spread of the virus we are currently seeing is pushing our healthcare workers to the brink. In addition to their work caring for COVID patients, the community spread has increasingly put them at risk of exposure in their daily lives and further impacts our ability to deliver care. Our healthcare workers need the support of community now more than ever – and that support can come in the form of abiding by the public health measures put in place by the State.”

“We thank the Governor for his close collaboration with health systems and healthcare workers, and for taking these important steps to address the current realities of COVID-19. We hope that with these measures, we can bend the curve and keep Minnesotans healthy and safe.”

“Please, wear a mask and stay home when possible – including during the holidays. While we know it’s hard to miss seeing loved ones at this time of year, it’s the best thing we can do to protect them and each other.”

Mayo Clinic

“The COVID-19 surge continues to seriously affect the communities that Mayo Clinic serves across the Upper Midwest. Alarming increases in community exposure rates and test positivity significantly challenge Mayo Clinic’s staffing and capacity to serve patients with COVID-19 and other conditions.”

“Mayo Clinic has approximately 1,500 of our 68,000 staff with work restrictions related to COVID-19 exposures or due to a COVID-19 diagnosis. More than 93 percent of these exposures occurred in the community, and the few cases of work-related exposure have occurred in break rooms or staff cafeterias where staff are not masked while eating. More than 93% of these exposures occurred in the community. In addition, a few exposures were work-related, occurring in break rooms or staff cafeterias where staff were not masked while eating. Mayo Clinic staff are not getting COVID from our patients. It is safe to come to Mayo Clinic, and people who need care can and should come in for care.”

“While Mayo Clinic recognizes the temporary sacrifices these restrictions may require members of the community to make, they will enhance Minnesota’s ability to gain control of the surge and return to safe and normal daily life sooner. Mayo Clinic appreciates your support in keeping its staff members and patients safe through following proven prevention measures of masking, social distancing and hand-washing. Working together, we will emerge a stronger Minnesota.”

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