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Duluth hospitals prepare for possibly ‘doubling, tripling’ capacity

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DULUTH, MN -- A local infectious disease specialist says both of Duluth's hospitals are preparing to possibly handle double or triple the number of patients during the COVID19 pandemic.

Dr. Andrew Thompson says both St. Luke's and Essentia hospitals are currently preparing for a low-level spread, but they're also hashing out plans for how to handle a much larger number of COVID-19 patients should the need arise.

Thompson said that could include converting hospital space not normally resevered for patients.

He says St. Luke's is also finding new roles for some hospital employees because their usual jobs are not active for time being.

"Clinics are much slower in volume than usual, elective sugreries aren't happening so we have a lot of workers who are available to help out in other roles in the hospital," Thompson said.

As of Wedneday, St. Louis County reported three confirmed cases.

As of Wednesday, Duluth hospitals are only testing three categories of patients for COVID-19, including: those are hospitalized patients, healthcare workers who are ill, and people who live in group settings like nursing homes.

Thompson says people with mild symptoms and the general public does not need to be tested for COVID-19 because there is no treatment available. Instead, Thompson says if you are feeling sick, you should stay home and self isolate.

Briggs LeSavage

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