By Liz Collin

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Some Twin Cities hospitals have declared a third surge in the fight against COVID-19.

As an RN inside Regions ICU, Tiffany Wolfsberger had hoped by now COVID-19 patient numbers would be on a permanent decline.

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“I was here on Tuesday and it’s doubled since then,” Wolfsberger said.

But, as of Thursday, HealthPartners has declared a third surge.

“We’ve been seeing numbers going up as far as testing, just within the last week we have seen it hit the hospital,” Wolfsberger said.

One month ago, HealthPartners had 27 people hospitalized with COVID-19. That has climbed to 100 and gone from five in the ICU to 16 in that same time period, all while the age of those hospitalized fell – from an average of 65 in November to 55 in April.

“Today we have patients as young as early 20’s,” Wolfsberger said.

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A few blocks away at St. Joseph’s Hospital, Fairview Health has just announced plans to end COVID-19 care by the end of May, predicting vaccine progress will help to turn things around by then.

“It’s been really promising with the vaccines and we appreciate all the people getting their vaccine,” said Emily Allen, an RN at St. Joseph’s Hospital.

Still, Allen has been startled by the recent spike and the kind of shape young patients are in.

“The last shift I worked I had two patients in their 30’s both very, very sick and on ventilators and it’s really hard to not think that could be me,” Allen said.

Allen believes many are taking fewer precautions now, giving up on masks and traveling to crowded places after 13 long months.

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“It’s very hard especially for someone working in a COVID ICU unit for over a year now to see people completely not caring and throwing caution to the wind,” she said. “That’s just making us have to climb up a steeper hill again. It’s a mountain, we’re going back up.”

Liz Collin