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Video: Northland hospitals hope holiday gatherings will not result in "tipping point"

Nov 25, 2020 04:55AM ● By Editor

Watch the WDIO-TV Report here

Photo: WDIO-TV

By Emily Ness from WDIO-TV - November 24, 2020

Despite the excitement of the holiday season, COVID-19 is still very real. On Tuesday, Northland health officials advised the public to avoid traveling and gathering outside their household as hospitals across Minnesota and Wisconsin near their capacities.

Division Chair for Hospital Services at Essentia Health, Dr. Dawn Drotar said 30% of patients currently hospitalized at Essentia are COVID positive.

“Hospitals are filling up. If this continues, access to care will be hindered. That's really dangerous territory,” Drotar said.Beyond the bed space to care for these patients, Drotar said they need the staff.

“We cannot afford to have more of our health care workers sidelined by a COVID diagnosis or exposure,” Drotar said. “They can't care for you while in quarantine.”

Chief Medical Officer at St. Luke's, Dr. Nicholas Van Deelen said they too continue to run a high census of hospitalizations.

“The healthcare systems are very full,” Van Deelen said. “We can manage through the way we are right now, but if we don't all do the things that we need to do—meaning masking, social distancing and really careful hygiene in regards to our hands, we risk raising that level to a point where the hospitals won't be able to manage it anymore.”

Public Health Division Director, Amy Westbrook said St. Louis County, at large, is seeing about 10 new hospitalizations per day.

“We want to make sure that our hospitals are able to care for those people who need care,” Westbrook said.

With the holidays upon us, many have been getting tested for COVID-19 as a precautionary measure before traveling or seeing loved ones. But, Westrbook warns that a negative test may not mean that someone is in the clear.

“Your test result will tell you if you are infected with COVID on the day you got tested, it won't tell you if you are incubating the virus in your system and it hasn't been able to be detected through testing, so that doesn't mean that you're not infected, it means that you are not currently testing positive for the virus,” Westbrook said.

To prevent more cases and hospitalizations, health officials recommend people come up with safe alternatives to celebrate Thanksgiving this year.

Both Essentia Health and St. Luke's encourage the public share pictures of their safe Thanksgiving celebrations using the hash tag #StayHomeForHeroes.