Officials: Alternative health care facilities needed to prevent Minnesota ICUs from 'being overrun'

Minnesota does not have many intensive care unit beds available, so state officials are working to create alternative health care facilities to prevent ICUs from being overrun with COVID-19 patients as the virus continues to spread in the state. 

As of Tuesday, Minnesota has 262 confirmed cases of COVID-19, although health officials continue to emphasize that is an undercount due to lack of testing. Of those cases, 15 patients are currently hospitalized and seven are in the ICU—up from five on Monday.

Minnesota has 243 ICU beds available, Gov. Tim Walz said during a conference call with reporters Tuesday, and hospitals are now sharing more data in real time with each other. 

Homeland Security and Emergency Management Director Joe Kelly said officials are planning to create alternative health care facilities to prevent hospitals—especially ICUs—from “being overrun with the demand for critical care.” 

“We're in good shape now but we need to be prepared to expand that system very quickly," he said. 

Alternative care facilities could be anything from a motel where the rooms become hospital rooms or a high school basketball court that is partitioned into intensive care units, Kelly said.