By WCCO-TV Staff

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Top state leaders on Wednesday announced that medical teams from the federal government are being sent to support Minnesota hospitals during the current COVID-19 surge.

Gov. Tim Walz says the federal government accepted his “urgent request” for emergency staffing assistance, and will now be sending two Department of Defense medical teams.

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The emergency staffing teams, with 22 medical personnel each, will be supporting staff at Hennepin Healthcare in Minneapolis and St. Cloud Hospital. They’re expected to arrive next week.

“Hospitals around the state need urgent support, and my Administration is using every tool at our disposal to help them,” Walz said. “The emergency staffing teams coming to HCMC and St. Cloud Hospital over the next few days will provide an important measure of relief to the healthcare personnel who remain on the frontline of this crisis. Every day, our doctors and nurses are treating Minnesotans sick with COVID-19 or suffering other emergencies. But they are under water, and they need all the help we can give them. I’m grateful the Biden Administration heeded our request and is sending in reinforcements.”

In Minnesota hospitals as of Tuesday, there are 1,382 patients being hospitalized for COVID-19, which is the highest figure in 2021. Only 47 intensive care unit beds are available for Minnesota patients.

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“Hospital capacity is extremely tight in the metro and in Greater Minnesota, and this high level of activity is taking a tremendous toll on our health care workers,” Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said. “We are working hard to give them support, but they also need each and every Minnesotan to do their part by reducing the rate at which COVID-19 is spreading. That means getting vaccinated, wearing a mask in public indoor settings, testing as appropriate, and using all the tools we know help limit transmission.”

Walz also announced that a third alternative care site will be opening in the Twin Cities next week to further help hospital capacity.

Malcolm told reporters in a Tuesday news conference that Minnesota is prepared to move forward on expanding booster eligibility to all Minnesotans adults. The expansion will come this week unless the federal government announces an expansion sooner.

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