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Medical workers say health care facilities slow to prepare for surge in coronavirus patients

Plus: study says ‘best-case scenario’ would see 20 percent of adults in Minneapolis infected with COVID-19; Census Bureau temporarily suspending all field operations for 2020 count; Delta and Sun Country announce deeper cuts to flight schedules; and more.

REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

MPR’s Jon Collins writes: “Medical workers at hospitals across the Twin Cities are expressing concern that some health care facilities are not prepared to handle the expected surge of coronavirus patients. The front-line workers are criticizing hospital administrators for slow implementation of strategies to treat coronavirus victims and unclear communication. They also say the hospitals are potentially putting medical workers at risk by rationing equipment and inconsistently enforcing protocols around coronavirus patients.”

For BringMeTheNews Joe Nelson writes, “A study from the Harvard Global Health Institute has published ‘best guess’ data for how quickly Minnesota hospital beds could reach capacity under best- and worst-case scenarios of the coronavirus outbreak.  For the Minneapolis region, the study says a best-case scenario is for 20 percent of adults to get infected – a number that epidemiologists say is conservative – over an 18-month period.”

Says Sarah Brumble at City Pages, “Staring into the face of unprecedentedly quiet kitchens, Chowgirls Killer Catering, Restaurant Alma and The Bachelor Farmer banded together to make the most of their talents and stocked pantries. In partnership with Second Harvest Heartland and Loaves and Fishes, these culinary heavyweights are donating their kitchen space, abundance of food, and skilled teams in service of preparing meals to feed community members experiencing hunger due to the coronavirus outbreak.”

At WCCO-TV Susan Elizabeth Littlefield says, “More COVID-19 testing could soon be available in the Twin Cities thanks to an Eagan couple’s new idea — and it’s all happening by coincidence. Aundria and James Riggen met in PA school, choosing each other and careers in urgent care. Because of COVID-19, WCCO spoke with them via Facetime app about the idea they have been working on for a year to launch LX Medical — an in-home urgent care center. … In addition to urgent care services, the couple is working with a North Carolina company to provide in-home finger prick COVID-19 tests with instant results, administered by a provider who visits your residence.”

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The Star Tribune’s Jeremy Olson reports, “After a week of school suspensions, bar closures, stock drops and virus fears, state infectious disease director Kris Ehresmann said she is worried that ‘the public has not fully absorbed this message … The most important thing people can do at this time is stay home if they are sick.’ Gov. Tim Walz told Minnesotans to expect ‘not a blizzard, but a winter’ and that compliance with public health recommendations over the long haul will protect the most people from the outbreak.”

At MPR, Hansi Lo Wang reports, “The coronavirus pandemic is forcing the U.S. Census Bureau to temporarily suspend all field operations for the 2020 census for two weeks until April 1, the agency announced Wednesday in a statement on its website. As the country continues to bunker down in response to the spread of COVID-19, the bureau’s director, Steven Dillingham, says it is making the change ‘to help protect the health and safety of the American public, Census Bureau employees, and everyone going through the hiring process for temporary census taker positions.’”

Says Kristen Leigh Painter for the Star Tribune, “Delta and Sun Country, two leading airlines at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, on Wednesday announced deeper cuts to their flight schedules as more people avoid air travel to stem the spread of the new coronavirus. Delta, the dominant carrier at the airport, said it will cut flight capacity by 70% and ground 600 planes, more than half its fleet. … Sun Country, which is based at MSP, said it will cut its capacity by 23% in April and a bit more in May.”

In the Pioneer Press, Nick Ferraro says, “Simon Property Group, which locally owns Twin Cities Premium Outlets in Eagan and Southdale Center in Edina, has shut down all of its malls and retail centers across the United States to help slow the spread of coronavirus. The closure took effect at 7 p.m. Wednesday, and comes a day after the Mall of America in Bloomington closed. Simon, which also owns Albertville Premium Outlets in Albertville, Minn., is the nation’s largest shopping mall operator.”