By WCCO-TV Staff

ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — Gov. Tim Walz announced Friday several proposals intended to help hospitals that are overrun by COVID-19 cases during the continuing proliferation of the omicron variant.

Walz said that he’s secured a fourth federal medical team to help Abbott Northwestern Hospital in the Twin Cities, with more than 200 nurses and respiratory therapists also arriving to provide stopgap care in the state.

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“The Omicron variant has been incredibly difficult for our hospitals, who are treating a surge of patients while dealing with COVID-19 outbreaks among their employees,” Walz said. “They asked for help, and we are providing it by bringing in more short-term emergency personnel to relieve our exhausted hospital staff. My deepest gratitude goes out to Minnesota’s hard-working doctors, nurses, and hospital staff who are persevering through unprecedented circumstances to treat their patients.”

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The goal is to expand hospital capacity as the state continues to report bed shortages due to the high volume of COVID-19 patients. As of midweek, the state was reporting more than 1,500 patients, or an increase of 50% from the previous month.

“This pandemic response continues to be an all-hands-on-deck effort, and we deeply appreciate the help of our federal partners as well as the heroic service of our doctors, nurses and other care providers,” Minnesota Commissioner of Health Jan Malcolm said. “We need all Minnesotans to do their part by taking those actions we know help reduce the spread of this disease – getting vaccinated and boosted, masking up, staying home when sick, and getting tested when appropriate.”

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Walz is using $40 million in American Rescue Plan funding to hire staff to help at health care locations with staff shortages.