Midwest reels from COVID surge: 'Why weren't we prepared for what was coming?'

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COVID-19 is wreaking havoc across the Upper Midwest. Minnesota could see 100,000 new cases before Thanksgiving, and North Dakota hospitals are so strained that Gov. Doug Burgum is allowing asymptomatic COVID-19-positive nurses to work — a grim forecast for much of the nation as winter's lower temperatures sweep in, The Washington Post reports. 

"We had months to prepare for this. We saw it happen in other states that were hit earlier. Why weren't we prepared for what was coming?" Dr. Sarah Newton, CMO of a hospital in Linton, N.D., asked The Washington Post. 

The region's surge is particularly concerning since healthcare access in some rural areas is already limited. In the Twin Cities, there are 22 intensive care unit beds left, and in Itasca County, the skyrocketing positivity rate no longer allows for feasible contact-tracing  — a 'catastrophic' situation, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz said in a local news briefing. 

The reluctance of many Upper Midwest leaders to implement rigid prevention measures earlier contributed to the current surge, Andrew Pavia, MD, chief of pediatric infectious diseases at the University of Utah School of Medicine, said during a media call. 

While Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds previously has opposed mask and closure orders, she recently put a 25-person cap on maskless indoor gatherings and is requiring masks for large outdoor events. 

"This is going to be a long dark winter," Minnesota's governor said. "You can't wish it away, can't hope it away, can't think it's not real. This is killing large numbers of people."

More articles on public health:
Number of COVID-19 hospitalizations, state by state: Nov. 13
500 Georgia students in quarantine after 'super spreader' Halloween parties
Hospitalizations rise for 18th day; developmental disorders tied to 3x higher COVID-19 death risk — 4 updates


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