Minnesota National Guard Delivers Cots to St. Louis County for Potential COVID-19 Shelter

250 cots from Camp Ripley will be stocked and distributed on a need-basis.

DULUTH, Minn.- The Minnesota National Guard arrived in St. Louis County Tuesday morning to deliver hundreds of cots for a potential COVID-19 shelter.

According to officials, while they’ve planned for pandemics in the past, none come close to the magnitude of planning required for Coronavirus.

The Minnesota National Guard assisted St. Louis County by delivering 250 cots, bringing their total stockpiled to 393. They hope to have at least 500 to 1,000 on hand.

The cots would either be used in a shelter, or distributed to anyone involved with the pandemic.

“It could be Essentia Health Hospital, it could be St. Luke’s Hospital. It could be our public health setting up a shelter for those who come down with COVID-19 but doesn’t have anywhere to go,” said Dewey Johnson, Emergency Management Coordinator for the County. “It could be for staff, for maybe we have a Law Enforcement officer who doesn’t want to go home and infect his family.”

Duluth Fire Chief Shawn Krizaj, also St. Louis County Emergency Management Manager, requested the cots not just for Duluth, but the whole county.

“I think it’s probably helpful for the county to be able then to focus on some smaller communities that maybe can’t do things that we can do as the City of Duluth because of our personnel,” he said.

He said officials are still looking into a potential location for a COVID-19 shelter. “You can’t just put people in a building, there’s a lot of other things that go along with that.”

But finding one suited for this pandemic is more challenging than finding one for a natural disaster.

“Like, the DECC is usually one of our go-to shelter sites,” said the Chief. “Well in this case when we’re trying to isolate people, to stop the spread of the virus, we want something that’s more sectioned off, either smaller or even separate rooms per person. ”

As County officials work on securing more Personal Protective Equipment and more cots, they said in the meantime the community should continue being there for each other.

“We’re all in this together, so we’re really trying to be prepared, do what we can,” Johnson said. “But in the end, it comes down to the community, everybody helping each other.”

All in all a special shelter may not be necessary, Krizaj said, if more people practice social distancing and stay at home.

“Those are the things that are going to be important to help lessen that patient surge at the hospitals, lessen the need for quarantining possibly 200 people in these cots. So really just want people to think about that and take this seriously.”

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