Big Books & Bold Ideas with Kerri Miller

Health care workers feel squeezed by surge of COVID-19 cases

A health care worker walks into a COVID-19 unit
A health care worker walks into a COVID-19 unit at United Memorial Medical Center in Houston, Texas on July 2.
Mark Felix | AFP via Getty Images file

Hospitalizations for COVID-19 patients in Minnesota are surging.

The current rate is about 27 hospitalizations per 100,000 residents. For perspective, the state considers a hospitalization rate of 8 per 100,000 residents high risk — our current weekly average is roughly three times higher.

New COVID-19 hospitalizations in Minnesota

The increase is happening across the state, including in rural areas.

Smaller hospitals are having a hard time absorbing the influx of patients, but many larger hospitals that can offer more specialized care are also running out of space. Even when beds are available, staffing them is a challenge as more health care workers get sick.

Earlier this week, Gov. Tim Walz told reporters the Upper Midwest is facing the “darkest part of this pandemic,” and on Wednesday, he announced new restrictions to slow the spread. 

Thursday at 9 a.m, MPR News host Kerri Miller spoke with two physicians about the stress this surge is putting on health care workers.


  • Dr. Deb Dittberner is Chief Medical Officer and family physician for the Alomere Health System.

  • Dr. David Hilden is vice president of medical affairs at Hennepin Healthcare. 

To listen to the full conversation you can use the audio player above.

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