The latest COVID hospitalization numbers reported by the State Health Department indicate nearly 1670 Minnesotans are now hospitalized due to the new virus and 364 are being treated in intensive care.
"Our staff are being infected mostly due to community spread (93% of staff infections), and this impacts our ability to care for patients", Kelley Luckstein wrote to CNN in a Wednesday email.
A spokesperson for Mayo Clinic told NBC News in an email that the number - only from the nationwide medical system's Minnesota and Wisconsin locations - comprised nearly one-third of the 2,981 coronavirus cases among its Midwest staff since the start of the pandemic in March. Tony Evers, who is the governor of Wisconsin, has declared a new state of emergency, and Gov. Kim Reynolds of Iowa announced a new health order that mandates masks indoors.
The medical center is "very worried" about the health of its staff and having enough people to care for patients as health care professionals themselves become infected with the virus or have to quarantine due to exposure, Dr. Amy Williams, executive dean of the Mayo Clinic Practice, said during a press call Tuesday. "You need space, supplies, and staff", Williams said.
While patients in the hospital are of the utmost concern, Williams continues to worry about staff and said they are extremely important in treating positive COVID patients. While some Americans are exhausted of hearing about safety measures such as wearing masks and washing their hands regularly, it is important to take those precautionary measures as the virus continues to spread across the country, he said.
"All of our hospitals are really stretched", Williams said. "We do not want families to be sick. And what we are most anxious about is staff". We do not want families to lose loved ones. "We will achieve this, but we must be safe, protect each other".
"The public urgently needs to treat COVID-19 as the health emergency it is to prevent the health care system from being overwhelmed", the health system said in last week's statement.
She says the Mayo Clinic in Rochester now has 32 COVID-19 patients being treated in intensive care units and is adding 12 to 13 ICU beds to meet the expected demand in the coming weeks.
"While we are temporarily deferring elective procedures in order to free up beds for COVID-19 patients, the public needs to understand we continue to care for other patient populations in addition to COVID patients - we remain open for trauma, emergency care, and urgent care needs while also caring for COVID patients".
"We need your help and we need it now".
In coming weeks, hospitalizations and deaths are expected to increase as the number of daily coronavirus cases continues to rise.
"We need everyone in the communities we serve to do their part to limit the spread of COVID-19", she urged.