North Dakota hospitals at full capacity amid COVID-19 surge, staff shortages

North Dakota hospitals are reportedly at full capacity amid surging coronavirus cases and a shortage of healthcare workers.

On Monday, Gov. Doug Burgum announced a new measure to address the dire situation, allowing COVID-19-positive healthcare workers who are asymptomatic to continue working on coronavirus patients, the Grand Forks Herald reported.

The shortage in healthcare workers has translated to less available hospital beds, and staffing is made more complicated as COVID-19 patients usually require a separate set of nurses who are confined to coronavirus wards.

About 20 percent of hospitalized patients in the state are being treated for coronavirus, the report said. A recent rise in patients without coronavirus has also contributed to the resource shortage.

Another proposal touched on by Burgum to address the hospital staffing shortage is hiring EMTs and paramedics to operate COVID-19 testing centers, freeing up the nurses currently working at the sites.

Hospitals in North Dakota reached their capacity as coronavirus cases have been steadily rising in the state since early October.

As of Wednesday, there were 10,421 active COVID-19 cases in North Dakota, compared to 2,859 on Oct. 4, according to the state Health Department.

Overall, since the onset of the pandemic, over 59,000 people in North Dakota tested positive for coronavirus and 697 deaths were tied to the illness.

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