Walz to address hospital capacity, expansion options for COVID-19 rapid testing – KSTP

The announcement comes as cases in the state continue to rise.

“The numbers that we are seeing are definitely concerning,” Kris Ehresmann, the director of infectious disease with the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), said this week.

MDH reported the weekly positivity rate has jumped up to over 8%, the highest it’s been since last year at this time before vaccines even rolled out; 10% is considered a high-risk category where widespread COVID-19 transmission is happening. 

Hospitals around Minnesota are reinstating COVID-19 visiting protocols that were in place last year as beds and intensive care units fill up.

Walz’s announcement follows his remarks that lawmakers have not done what he asked for earlier this month. On Oct. 5, Walz sent a letter urging lawmakers to take steps to help hospitals dealing with an influx of COVID-19 cases and other illnesses. Among those requests were considering temporary waivers for medical professionals to address staffing shortages and temporarily reinstating hospital bed moratorium waivers. 

At that time, Walz said he was ready to call a special session, something he has pitched again.

“We need to be back in special session not just to take care of essential workers, which is absolutely critical,” Walz said. “We need to do these things the hospitals are asking for. I want to be very clear. The list of things I sent to the legislature came from long-term care facilities, hospitals and school administrators. Things they were asking us to do. I no longer possess the ability to move on those things. We should have moved three weeks ago and we wouldn’t have as many people in the hospital today.”

The governor plans to announce new incentives to encourage more teen vaccinations, address hospital capacity concerns, and expand testing options at 10:15 a.m.

Stay with 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS and KSTP.com for updates.

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