Governor Burgum addresses hospital strain as capacity limits are reached
"We want to make sure that North Dakotans know that the risk is real."
BISMARCK, N.D. (KVRR) — A rise in COVID-19 cases has North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum alongside state hospital leaders addressing the increase of COVID-19 hospitalizations in the state.
As COVID-19 cases continue to rise, hospitals across the state are beginning to see a repeat of last year’s record high hospitalizations.
“Let’s take a look back a year ago, COVID has changed. The delta variant is more contagious than previous versions but we also have better tools to be able to fight COVID than we ever have before that we didn’t have a year ago. We do have a hospital capacity issue that is present and looming,” North Dakota Governor, Doug Burgum said.
Governor Burgum compares other states’ COVID-19 surge to North Dakota’s low vaccination rates and high COVID-19 hospitalizations.
“Other states with comparatively low vaccination rates like North Dakota are seeing their hospital capacity stretched to the limit. We want to make sure that North Dakotans know that the risk is real. With the low vaccination rates we have in our state, we could be finding ourselves in that same kind of position. So, this is a readiness call to the citizens,” said Burgum.
One Sanford Health official says as cases continue to rise, hospitals will have no choice but to make tough decisions when it comes to patient care.
“We expect the cases to rise over the next four to six weeks and capacity will be an issue. We’re preparing to make difficult decisions like we had to last time. Those decisions include who gets the next bed, who gets the next ventilator, and how many patients can you truly take care of with a limited number of staff,” Sanford Health President and CEO, Dr. Michael LeBeau said.
Experts say vaccination against COVID-19 is key to helping ease the stress on hospitals as the majority of covid positive patients are unvaccinated.
“We will continue to advocate both internally and externally for COVID vaccination as it has been mentioned 90 to 95 percent of hospitalized patients are unvaccinated,” Essentia Health Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Richard Vetter said.
Health officials recommend the continuation of practicing preventive measures such as; social distancing, masking, hand washing and contact tracing.