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High demand for hospital beds in Minnesota, ICU beds at 95%

ST. PAUL — The surge in the coronavirus delta variant has coincided with a high demand for hospital beds across Minnesota, according to health officials.

The state Department of Health says 95 percent of intensive care unit beds are occupied and 91 percent of overall hospital beds are in use. The numbers are even tighter in metro areas as COVID-19 cases are on the rise.

Minnesota Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said the need extends beyond coronavirus patients.

“Many of them have observed that folks that are in for other conditions are sicker than typical, likely because, not only because, but certainly a factor has been that a lot of care was deferred during the most intense parts of the pandemic,” Malcolm said.

Another factor in demand has to do with the time of year, Minnesota Public Radio News reported.

“With people out doing a lot of things there tend to be more injuries of one sort or another. So the trauma season is typically quite busy, especially for our trauma centers,” Malcolm said, adding she hopes the season of accidents is almost over.

As for coronavirus patients, hospitals are seeing a pattern.

“For us, we’re well over 90 percent of our cases in the hospital, all ages, are unvaccinated,” said Dr. George Morris, the physician incident commander for COVID-19 response for CentraCare, a regional health care system in central Minnesota.

Morris said more patients are younger, meaning under age 50. He puts the range at one-third to a half of the population on any given day lately. A year ago, 75 percent of the system’s patients were over the age of 65.