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Hospital capacity strain in central Minn. continues amid omicron wave

Although new cases and hospitalizations dipped in late December, both measures are escalating again as the state experiences a spike driven by the highly contagious omicron variant.

Coronavirus morphology
This illustration, created at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, reveals ultrastructural morphology exhibited by coronaviruses.
Contributed / CDC

BRAINERD — Hospitals in the central Minnesota region remained under significant strain Friday, Jan. 14, as bed availability was below 4% inside and outside intensive care units.

The Minnesota Department of Health reported a total of four staffed ICU beds available in the region as of Thursday, along with 30 available non-ICU beds.

In Brainerd, Essentia Health-St. Joseph’s Medical Center reported Friday its intensive care unit held eight patients, five of whom were hospitalized due to complications of COVID-19. None of the five were vaccinated, Essentia Health stated. Cuyuna Regional Medical Center in Crosby reported its COVID-19 patient census was too low Friday to provide data without compromising patient confidentiality.

Although new cases and hospitalizations dipped in late December, both measures are escalating again as the state experiences a spike driven by the highly contagious omicron variant.

For the sixth day in a row, the seven-day rolling positivity rate in the state broke a pandemic record, sitting at 21.6% Friday. In Crow Wing County, the test positivity rate was 17%, according to a New York Times analysis. These figures do not account for positives (or negatives) among at-home rapid tests, the results of which are not collected by the state.

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The deaths of 12 north-central Minnesota residents because of COVID-19 were among those reported this week, including five Crow Wing County residents and an Aitkin County resident age 35-39. The Crow Wing deaths were people ages 50-54, 55-59, 80-84, 85-89 and 95-99. Four of the five people who died were men, with the gender of the person in their 90s unavailable Friday.

Mille Lacs County reported its 100th COVID-19 death Friday — an 80- to 84-year-old — along with the deaths of people ages 65-69 and 95-99 earlier in the week. Other deaths included two Morrison County residents ages 65-69 and a Todd County resident age 40-44.

CHELSEY PERKINS, community editor, may be reached at 218-855-5874 or chelsey.perkins@brainerddispatch.com. Follow on Twitter at twitter.com/DispatchChelsey.

Related Topics: CORONAVIRUS
Chelsey Perkins is the community editor of the Brainerd Dispatch. A lakes area native, Perkins joined the Dispatch staff in 2014. She is the Crow Wing County government beat reporter and the producer and primary host of the "Brainerd Dispatch Minute" podcast.
Reach her at chelsey.perkins@brainerddispatch.com or at 218-855-5874 and find @DispatchChelsey on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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