Governor Walz targets hospital capacity concerns, increased testing capacity amidst latest COVID-19 surge

Rapidly filling ICU beds across Minnesota are the focus of Governor Tim Walz's latest actions when it comes to the state's latest COVID-19 surge.

According to the latest data from the Minnesota Department of Health, total ICU bed usage among COVID-19 patients is at 255. At the same time, there are 728 COVID-19 patients in non-ICU beds.

Gov. Walz told WCCO Radio's Paul Douglas on Friday morning during the WCCO Radio Morning News that there's a lack of space for people transitioning out of intensive care units and there's opportunity to provide relief.

"Typically when someone is in for a hip replacement, once they're done with surgery and recovered in the hospital, there's a stepdown where they go somewhere else to start their recovery," he said. "There's no place for them to stepdown because there's no long term rehabilitative beds that are available."

Walz said he asked the legislature to respond to the predictable surge by making more of those beds available.

"Asked them to make some of the changes that allowed us to pull more beds out of storage and allow us to put more people out there," Walz said. "Not cutting corners on safety, but releasing some of the tension for the short run."

Addressing the surge also includes expanding the state’s COVID-19 community rapid testing network.

"If we can identify early who has coronavirus we can isolate them and get them the treatments, we have new therapies that work really well on that, but we don't get that expansion," he said. "People being able to test barrier free, it's cost free, it's right there, people can have it in their home, or they can stop in [for a test]."

Walz said the expansive testing infrastructure ramped-down in June and with the current surge, plans to ramp-up testing again need to happen quickly.

"If we need to make changes to protect ourselves, we need to do that and we need to move quickly," Walz added. "That's exactly what's happening right now."