Kelley Anaas had just wrapped up a weekend where she spent 32 hours working in the COVID-19 ICU at Abbott Northwestern Hospital in the Twin Cities when she spoke at Gov. Tim Walz and health officials’ press conference Monday afternoon.
“So if my remarks seem emotionally charged, it’s because they are,” she said.
Anaas said the pandemic has taken an emotional toll on nurses.
“Up until nine months ago, ‘nurse’ was my only professional title. Suddenly, I had earned a new designation: frontline worker,” she said. “Honestly, I’ve always found this name laughable as it implies that there’s a second line of us waiting in the wings. Minnesota, we are your only line.”
She reported that the COVID ICU at Abbott filled up over the weekend and that they intubated more patients than they transferred out to medical floors.
Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said the state is looking at a significant healthcare staffing crisis. She warned that Minnesota and the entire United States are “one gigantic hotspot.”
Minnesota has reported over 230,000 coronavirus cases since the pandemic started. Malcolm expects the count could hit 300,000 in the next week.
Gov. Walz acknowledged that the Moderna announcement about its vaccine candidate being over 90% effectiveness was “incredibly good news.” He referred to it as the light at the end of the tunnel. But he said we are not there yet and need people to continue to do the basics: mask up and keep your distance.
“Whatever it takes to motivate you because I want to see every Minnesotan get through this. Wear your mask and stay healthy if for no other reason that’ll keep you healthy to vote against me in two years,” he said.