Hospital bed availability decreases in region amid “tripledemic”

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(ABC 6 News) – Ahead of the holidays, shocking new numbers from the Minnesota Department of Health indicate that there have been more than 2,100 hospitalizations this season.

Public health officials are on high alert amid the 900 influenza-like outbreaks in schools and 40 outbreaks in nursing homes. They say that the number of cases this flu season surpasses the two previous winters put together.

“We are experiencing a surge in respiratory viruses now,” said MDH Commissioner Jan Malcolm.

A surge, many officials say, is buckling the state’s health care systems.
Since Sept. there have been 1,500 hospitalizations for RSV in Minnesota, with 900 of them being children under one year old.

As more people get infected with these respiratory illnesses, the number of open hospital beds continues to dwindle.

In southeastern Minnesota, only 3% of beds are available to local hospitals. But, health officials say there are things that people can do to ease the strain.

“Our hospital capacities are tight. The vaccination for COVID and influenza are easy ways we can do our part to help limit the strain on the health care system,” explained Commissioner Malcolm.

As we approach 33 months since the pandemic began, fewer people are following Centers for Disease Control recommendations.

The MDH reports that as of last week, fewer than 20% of Minnesotans were up to date with their COVID vaccine.

“It’s really important that people shake off this COVID fatigue and lethargy,” added Mayo Clinic Dr. Greg Poland.

In Mower County, a surge in COVID cases has led to the CDC recommending that the community mask up.

“It’s been occurring over the last two weeks that we’ve seen our numbers going up,” explained Pam Kellogg, health services manager with Mower County. “We’re seeing more cases in our congregate peer settings, so like your nursing homes, your assisted living. We’re seeing it both with residents and staff and that’s where the driver is of our large numbers.”

Recent data from MDH indicates that Mower County’s community levels are much higher than the neighboring areas, as the number of COVID cases increased by more than 200% as of last week.