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‘This has never been more serious’: Itasca County out of critical care beds as COVID cases rise

As of Thursday, Nov. 11, the 14-day case rate per 10,000 Itasca residents was 116.4.
As of Thursday, Nov. 11, the 14-day case rate per 10,000 Itasca residents was 116.4.(MGN)
Published: Nov. 12, 2021 at 1:28 PM CST
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GRAND RAPIDS, MN -- Because of the high number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients, there are no more open beds for those needing critical care in Itasca County.

Itasca County health leaders made that announcement Friday afternoon.

As of Thursday, Nov. 11, the 14-day case rate per 10,000 Itasca residents was 116.4.

In the past week alone, 318 more COVID infections were identified among Itasca County residents and the 91st resident died due to COVID, a woman in her 70s.

With all those cases, hospital leaders said they don’t have places to transfer patients, so local health facilities are finding work-arounds.

“The community needs to know that this has never been more serious,” Kelly Chandler, Itasca County Public Health, said. “We are at the crisis levels of 2020, but without the same levels of COVID precautions in place. For your own sakes, dig out your masks and limit your exposure to groups, especially indoors. Go back to social distancing. And definitely get your COVID vaccine and flu shot if you haven’t already—you are far less likely to need an ICU bed if you do.”

Bigfork Valley Hospital’s CEO said his hospital is feeling the pressure in the northern part of the county too.

“We are currently managing patients in our facility that would benefit from a higher level of care, but there are no beds available to refer them to,” Aaron Saude, the facility’s CEO, said. “Our staff are being pushed to their capacity in all departments of the hospital and senior services. The best advice that I could provide to the community at this point is to stay safe, try not to get injured, and protect yourself from COVID by masking, social distancing, and getting vaccinated.”

Itasca County health leaders are expecting COVID cases to likely surge beyond peak levels of 2020.

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