MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minnesota health officials say we may be starting to see the impact of COVID-19 exposure from the Thanksgiving holiday. On Friday, they’re reporting 61 more deaths from the virus, and nearly 5,400 new cases of COVID-19 in the state.
State leaders warn community spread is impacting long-term care facilities and the ability to care for the people who live there. Friday afternoon Gov. Tim Walz and others shared what’s happening with our most vulnerable Minnesotans and what’s being done to keep them safe.
June Englund lives in independent senior living in Minneapolis. The 94-year-old says she’s keeping busy at home and feels safe, getting tested for COVID weekly.
“They come to our door, and they come with masks and they come with gowns and gloves,” Englund said.
But she worries about others who require more contact with healthcare workers exposed in the community.
“There is concern, because they’re the most vulnerable of us,” Englund said.
The state raised concerns too, saying rampant community spread is making its way to long-term care facilities, and impacting the ability to staff them.
“The crisis starts to become, is what happens when everybody in a care facility is not there to work, what happens to the people living there,” Walz said.
Health commissioner Jan Malcolm said the state has helped upwards of 3,200 facilities with infection control measures, and expanded testing for staff and residents, with roughly 60,000 per week by late last month. But care facilities say the community spread threatens the safety measures.
“We’ve got over 200 workers and residents, that are positive for COVID, and we are relentlessly trying to contain it,” Nate Shema, vice president of Operations at Good Samaritan, said.
The National Guard implemented a plan to train non-medical soldiers and airmen. Nearly 300 are working as temporary nurse aides, with long term care patients.
“The state has run out of trained professionals to fill these critical roles and serve and care for our most vulnerable population. They understand right now they have a mission that is for the greater good,” Major General Shawn Menke said.
June says she’ll continue to stay home and FaceTime with family, while giving thanks to the National Guard, and all those who show up day after day.
“II think we should be very appreciative for all of the people who are willing to work with this dreadful disease,” Englund said.
Health leaders again pleaded with people to help by wearing a mask, reducing contact, and maintaining a safe distance
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