By Liz Collin

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The fall surge has arrived. That’s the message from Minnesota doctors as the state sets a new daily record for COVID-19 cases at 2,297.

It’s the first time the state has a daily total above 2,000 cases since the start of the pandemic.

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Thirteen people died. Wisconsin reports nearly 4,000 cases today and 21 deaths.

While testing volume has increased, WCCO looked into a tough week of numbers that have health officials concerned.

For seven months, Dr. George Morris, the Physician COVID Incident Commander at CentreCare in St. Cloud has helped us navigate the ever changing numbers.

“This is a hard time and it’s really been a long road,” Dr. Morris said.

A series of marathons he says that for weeks have caused concern.

“I think the schools opening up, colleges, more people kind of circulating, Labor Day,” Dr. Morris said.

As younger generations are infected, Dr. Morris believes COVID-19 is being passed to an older, more vulnerable population in Minnesota.

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“What we’re looking at is this surge is not going to be a quick peak,” he added.

A new record of positive cases in the state shows 2,297 people are now infected. As testing has increased 65% since last month. Double digit deaths tied to COVID-19 have been reported on six of the last eight days.

Dr. Morris acknowledges the difficult week of data. But, it’s a different number that’s standing out to him.

“We have the beds, we have the supplies, we have the ventilators, it’s our staffing,” Dr. Morris said.

Minnesota’s Department of Health has tracked 10,000 health care workers for months. In June, it found 24% of high risk health care workers have been tied to some kind of home exposure.

That number has climbed to 62 percent.

It’s why Hennepin Healthcare’s CEO, Jennifer DeCubellis on Friday made it clear these critical workers are needed back at their care facilities.

“End to end across the health system any of our staff that involve with them being out has an impact,” DeCubellis said.

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As the ripple effect is beginning to build, Hennepin Healthcare is also reminding people to not delay medical care so hospital beds are available when they’re needed.

Liz Collin