Gov. Walz seeks $40 million for hospital staffing amid surge

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(ABC 6 News) – Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz is seeking to use $40 million in federal funding for emergency staffing support at hospitals ahead of an anticipated surge in omicron cases that is already straining the state’s hospital capacity.

Walz on Wednesday announced his request to fund the hiring of nurses to work 60 hours per week for 60 days at hospitals experiencing shortages due to the virus.

The request follows another $40 million Walz wants to put toward expanding testing. Both requests come out of $500 million in American Rescue Plan state funds for immediate COVID-19 response.

"Hope is not a plan. A plan takes resources. All of these things will triage and make a short-term difference, but Minnesotans can make a difference in this by following a few of those guidelines," Walz said of masking and getting vaccinated.

Walz, along side Commissioner Jan Malcolm announced the Minnesota Department of Health is waiving licensing fees and restrictions on adding new beds in hospitals and nursing homes.

"With more staffing coming in we also want to make it possible for physical capacity to be opened up where that makes sense," Malcolm added.

State officials hope this initiative makes it easier to create more space, and transfer patients to other long-term care facilities in Minnesota. Here locally Mayo Clinic reports on average 214 new cases per day in Olmsted County as of January ninth. The U.S. Department of Health and Human services reports that 1027 inpatient beds at Mayo Clinic Rochester are occupied — out of 1293 beds total.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.