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The Mayo Clinic is boosting its ICU and other hospital bed capacity to handle the rising demand for the inpatient care of COVID-19 patients.

Dr. Amy Williams, the Chair of the Mayo Clinic practice in the Midwest says the healthcare provider is anticipating rising hospitalization rates for at least the next couple and perhaps the next four weeks. She says the Mayo Clinic in Rochester currently has 32 COVID-19 patients being treated in intensive care units and is adding 12 to 13 ICU beds to meet the expected demand in the coming weeks. The latest COVID hospitalization numbers reported by the State Health Department indicate almost 1670 Minnesotans are currently hospitalized due to the new virus and 364 are being treated in intensive care.

Dr. Williams says there are currently 115 COVID patients being treated in the Mayo Clinic's hospitals in Rochester, while the total for Mayo Clinic facilities in the midwest is over 250. She says the high demand is putting a strain on the healthcare system as is the spread of the virus among Mayo Clinic staff and their families. William says there are currently about 1500 Mayo Clinic employees in the midwest absent from work due to COVID reasons, which could include being infected, having a family member infected, caring for an ill family member, and having close contact with an infected person.

She noted that just over 900 Mayo Clinic employees have tested positive for COVID-19 during the past two weeks. Doctor Williams says that number represents 30-percent of all of the known infections involving Mayo Clinic staff since the start of the pandemic. She says the vast majority of the COVID exposures involving Mayo Clinic employees has been in the community at around 93-percent, and almost all of the workplace transmission has involved contact between fellow employees while eating or on break.

Doctor Williams, in her briefing on the Mayo Clinic's current operations today, also identified some indicators that suggest the situation could improve in the coming weeks. She says the testing positivity rate appears to be stabilizing and even slightly decreasing in some areas. The rate in the Rochester area remained steady at around 10-percent, while northwest Wisconsin continues to see a positivity rate of around 20-person, and there has been some improvement in positivity rates reported in both southwestern Minnesota and southwestern Wisconsin.

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