Minnesota tops 10,000 virus deaths; other surgeries delayed

December 15, 2021 GMT

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minnesota topped 10,000 confirmed COVID-19 deaths on Wednesday while hospitals around the state continue to delay surgeries as the coronavirus patients crowd hospitals.

The state Department of Health reported 54 new deaths due to the virus, lifting the total fatalities to 10,018 since the start of the pandemic. Another 124 deaths were likely because of COVID-19 but weren’t confirmed by testing, the Star Tribune reported.

A pandemic wave caused by a fast-spreading delta variant of the coronavirus this fall hastened the toll. It took 187 days from March to September to increase from 7,000 to 8,000 deaths, 58 days to reach 9,000 and 39 days to reach 10,000, according to state health data.

Meanwhile, doctors say hospitals have deferred procedures to free up beds, leaving some patients in prolonged pain. Patient demand over the past month has been the highest in the 21 months of the pandemic, according to health care providers.

Hospitals started in September delaying surgeries that could be safely pushed back 90 or more days, and then moved on to those that could wait 30 to 60 days. Many surgeries have come due.

State leaders are hopeful that Minnesota’s progress in providing booster COVID-19 vaccine doses will disrupt the latest COVID-19 wave and restore hospital schedules. Minnesota ranks second among states with 44% of fully vaccinated adults receiving boosters. But, the state still has 1 million people who haven’t received any shots.