Pentagon sending medical teams to Minnesota hospitals amid surge in COVID-19 cases

The Pentagon is sending emergency medical teams to major hospitals in Minnesota to relieve doctors as the state deals with a surge in coronavirus infections, Gov. Tim WalzTim WalzThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by National Industries for the Blind - Biden calls for omicron concern, but not panic Minnesota governor announces positive COVID-19 test Politicians and celebrities who have tested positive for COVID-19 ahead of the holidays MORE (D) said Wednesday. 

The medical teams — with 22 medical personnel each — will arrive next week and immediately begin treating patients at the Hennepin County Medical Center and St. Cloud Hospital, Walz’s office said in a statement.

Walz said the teams will provide “an important measure of relief to the healthcare personnel who remain on the frontline of this crisis.”

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“Every day, our doctors and nurses are treating Minnesotans sick with COVID-19 or suffering other emergencies. But they are under water, and they need all the help we can give them,” the governor said. “I’m grateful the Biden Administration heeded our request and is sending in reinforcements.”

The Hill has reached out to the Pentagon for further comment. 

The move comes as the state’s hospitals come under strain due to an influx of COVID-19 patients, the vast majority of whom are unvaccinated. 

More than 1,300 Minnesotans are hospitalized for COVID-19, the highest number the state has dealt with this year, and only 47 ICU beds are open statewide to patients, the statement said.

Meanwhile, Minnesota has one of the worst seven-day infection rates in the country, with data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showing the state has averaged about 490 cases per 100,000 residents.

Aside from the medical teams, Walz announced that a third skilled nursing facility will act as a “transitional site” for patients who no longer need to be hospitalized but are not ready to go home.

A team of 25 medical staff — 10 nurses from federal partners and 15 nursing assistants from the Minnesota National Guard and private vendors — will provide transitional care at Cerenity Senior Care-Marian of Saint Paul for those who are currently hospitalized.