By Kate Raddatz

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — As COVID-19 cases surge in Minnesota, hospitals are stretched thin for patients needing immediate care. Nearly every ICU bed in the state is currently in use. On Monday, 1,125 ICU beds were in use of the 1,158 capacity.

Itasca County Public Health posted a letter on Facebook warning of a serious strain on area hospitals. County health officials asking residents to do everything they can to stay healthy in the coming weeks to avoid needing critical care.

READ MORE: COVID In Minnesota: State Tallies More Than 10,000 Reinfections Since Pandemic's Start

“We are seeing more patients now than we ever have before on the hospital side,” Grand Itasca Clinic and Hospital CEO Jean MacDonell said.

MacDonell said, while the number of COVID-19 patients is up, they are also seeing patients for other issues. She said patients have also delayed care during the pandemic and now are coming in sicker.

ER wait times have been particularly impacted during this surge.

“We have had wait times of four to five hours in recent weeks as we have this surge of patients,” she said.

READ MORE: Minnesota Health Care Workers Reflect On Blessings While Working Thanksgiving Day: 'A Lot Of Our Patients Are Going To Be Alone'

Allina Health has had to delay some elective surgeries.

“In order to serve our communities we’re really trying to adjust on the fly to make sure we have access for those that really need it right now,” Dr. Monte Johnson, vice president of St. Francis Regional Medical Center, said.

Health officials from multiple hospitals told WCCO if you do find yourself in a situation where you need medical care, you should go to the ER only if it’s urgent. If it’s something that can wait, you might want to check with your regular doctor or get a virtual appointment. But they do not recommend delaying care; you may just wait longer in the ER.

Health officials are concerned about the coming weeks with the holiday season. State health officials are encouraging people to use a multilayered approach to help fight COVID and ease capacity at Minnesota hospitals. That includes social distancing, wearing a mask, and getting your vaccine.

MORE NEWS: 'There’s No One Here To Help Us': Staff Shortages Devastating Senior Living Facility Residents

Kate Raddatz