Feds sending 3rd emergency medical team to Minnesota deal with COVID outbreak

The federal government is sending another federal emergency medical team to support Minnesota hospitals as they continue to deal with high COVID-19 caseloads amid a staffing shortage, Gov. Tim Walz announced Thursday. 

A team of 14 doctors, nurses and hospital staff from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ National Disaster Medical system will support COVID-19 patients at Southdale Hospital in Edina, according to a news release. The team will arrive on Friday and remain in Minnesota for at least two weeks. 

Walz said he asked President Biden during his visit to Minnesota Tuesday for additional help as Minnesota hospitals are at capacity. On Wednesday, there were 1,549 patients hospitalized across the state for COVID-19, including 345 in the ICU—numbers not seen since last December. 

"We’re still in a tough spot in the upper Midwest. We’re still in a tough spot in Minnesota," the governor said at an event. "I’m proud to say we’ll announce this afternoon there will be a third federal team coming. I asked the president when we were together on Tuesday to send us another one." 

Two U.S. Department of Defense emergency medical teams were already deployed to help staff at Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis and St. Cloud Hospital. 

Walz has also activated 400 Minnesota National Guard soldiers to start training as certified nursing assistants and temporary nursing aides and provide support at long-term care facilities facing severe staffing shortages.  

Thursday’s news comes as the first case of the omicron variant was confirmed in Minnesota. Health officials said the infected person is a full vaccinated Hennepin County resident who recently traveled to New York City for an anime convention and developed mild symptoms shortly after.