ST. PAUL, Minn. (KTTC) — On Thursday, health care workers made a public plea by the governor’s side, begging Minnesotans to take COVID-19 precautions seriously.
“It’s heartbreaking for health care workers to finish an exhausting workday only to stop at the grocery store and see people not wearing a mask,” said Dr. Cindy Firkins Smith, President, and Co- CEO of Carris Health.
Gov. Tim Walz and frontline workers want people to stop believing that wearing masks is a political decision.
“Imagine being a firefighter, and while the rest of society goes out and starts thousands of fires each day, you’re fighting them. And you ask people to please practice fire safety, but they refuse. And they tell you as you’ve been exhaustingly fighting them every day, that those fires are just a hoax. And they have a right to start those fires. That’s what it feels like to work in health care right now,” Smith said.
She said the health measures officials repeat talking about, can help save lives.
“We’re begging you, please wear a mask, socially distance, wash your hands. Protect yourselves so we can protect you,” Smith said.
Dr. Carolyn McClain, an emergency medical specialist, shared a first-hand account of what it’s like supporting COVID-19 positive patients.
“He was in his 90s, and he came in with shortness of breath and he was critically ill. And I knew I had to come back and tell him that his COVID test was positive. And when you do that to someone in their 90s, they know what that means. He said, ‘Dr. McClain, I don’t think I’ve been that scared since I fought in Korea,’” McClain said.
She said the man died after she saw him a week and a half ago, but wanted to use that story to spread a message.
“I am here today to ask everyone to do everything they can, to slow the spread of this virus. So we can take care of your family members like they’re our own,” McClain said.
More than 900 Mayo Clinic staff across the Midwest have contracted the virus over the past two weeks.
Allina Health Care has more than 800 staff members out because of the virus. That number for Carris Health is more than 1,200.
Another problem from the surge in cases is some hospitals are having to divert patients.
“It means we can’t hospitalize someone with COVID, but it also means we also can’t hospitalize that person that has that heart attack, that has that stroke, or has something else that they need to be hospitalized for. And we have to look for a bed elsewhere,” Smith said.
With Thanksgiving being a week away, health care workers said having a big gathering can have negative impacts.
“A lot of those people are going to end up sick, some of them are going to end up in the hospital and some of them are going to end up dying and that’s what’s overrunning our hospital systems right now,” Smith said.