Minnesota seeks $40M to support hospital staffing

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Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz said he seeks to use $40 million in federal funding to help support hospital staffing during the latest COVID-19 surge fueled by the omicron variant. 

On Jan. 12, Mr. Walz announced plans to use the American Rescue Plan funding to cover the costs for providers, mostly registered nurses, who will work 60 hours per week for 60 days to provide care to patients at certain Minnesota hospitals facing staffing shortages because of the virus. 

New daily COVID-19 hospitalization rates in the country have risen 84 percent over the last two weeks, with Minnesota seeing a 9 percent increase during that time period, according to HHS data tracked by The New York Times. Many hospitals are also seeing employees out sick with COVID-19, which is affecting staffing.

"As we look ahead to the next few weeks, we know we're going to continue to see a sharp rise in cases from the omicron variant across our state," Mr. Walz said in a news release. "This funding will support our healthcare heroes and help Minnesotans get the care they need." 

Mr. Walz has submitted his plan to the Legislative COVID-19 Response Commission, a group of state lawmakers who review pandemic-related expenditures that exceed $1 million.

Meanwhile, the governor has announced that the Minnesota Department of Health also is taking emergency actions to allow hospitals and long-term care facilities to expand capacity. These include waiving licensing fees and restrictions related to adding new beds in hospitals or nursing homes amid a COVID-19 surge and allowing nursing homes to quickly reactivate beds they had previously applied to leave open.

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