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A third federal medical team will deploy to Minnesota to help combat COVID-19

Gov. Tim Walz said he requested the team on Tuesday and the 14-person group is set to touch down in Minnesota on Friday.

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Members of a Department of Defense medical response team on Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2021, tested their facemasks before starting training at Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis. Dana Ferguson / Forum News Service
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ST. PAUL — The federal government is set to deploy a third medical team to take pressure off of Minnesota hospitals, the Walz administration announced on Thursday, Dec. 2.

A team of 14 nurses, doctors and other medical staff from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will touch down on Friday, Dec. 3, to start a rotation at M Health Fairview Southdale Hospital in Edina. They will stay for a minimum of two weeks with the option to extend.

The federal relief team is the third to tap in to support the state's hospitals as COVID-19 cases, as well as other severe illnesses and injuries, have outpaced capacity. The Department of Defense last week set up a team at Hennepin Healthcare in Minneapolis and another team at St. Cloud Hospital on Tuesday.

“Minnesota’s frontline health care workers continue to tirelessly treat patients sick with COVID-19," Gov. Tim Walz said in a news release. "I am so grateful for their dedication, and I want to thank the Biden administration for providing emergency staffing support to help the great doctors and nurses at M Heath Fairview Southdale."

Walz said he put in a request for support to Biden Tuesday, Nov. 30, during the president's visit to Rosemount. Walz said he thanked the president for sending the first two teams but said the state could use additional help.

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THURSDAY IN MINNESOTA:

  • Minnesota confirms state's first omicron variant case of COVID-19 The man had recently traveled to New York City.
  • Minnesota reports 72 deaths, 1,549 hospitalizations for COVID-19 Hospitalizations remain high, though measures of public health risk continued to drop.

The federal relief teams are part of a larger effort to free up space for intensive care and emergency patients in Minnesota. The state has also expanded its emergency staffing pool, created alternative care sites for those who no longer need hospital care but aren't quite well enough to go home and called up 400 Minnesota National Guard members to train as nursing assistants to work in long-term care facilities.
Fairview Health Services Chief Nursing Executive and Chief Operating Officer Laura Reed said the federal support would ensure the hospital "can continue to respond to trauma and health emergencies when Minnesotans need us most.”

Minnesota's COVID-19 case numbers have started to wane in recent days, but hospitalizations have continued to climb.

Follow Dana Ferguson on Twitter @bydanaferguson , call 651-290-0707 or email dferguson@forumcomm.com

Dana Ferguson is a Minnesota Capitol Correspondent for Forum News Service. Ferguson has covered state government and political stories since she joined the news service in 2018, reporting on the state's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the divided Statehouse and the 2020 election.
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