Itasca County Doctor: Hospitals At Capacity, Residents Urged to Follow Guidelines

Itasca County Public Health Officials Ask Residents to Wear Masks, Social Distance, Avoid Gatherings

GRAND RAPIDS, Minn. – Health officials in Itasca County are pleading with residents to do their part to help limit the spread of COVID-19.

This plea comes as 241 new COVID-19 cases have been reported in the county within the past seven days.

“Unfortunately, we know that not everyone is helping us minimize the spread, and keeping out healthcare resources available for the most emergent care needs,” said Kelly Chandler, department manager, Itasca County Public Health.

It’s becoming a daily message from the Itasca County Public Health Department.

“Please know, those on the front lines need you, they need us, they need all of us,” said Chandler.

Healthcare workers in Itasca County are now stressed to the max, not knowing what to say to get their neighbors to follow safety regulations.

“I’m here on behalf of my colleagues to tell you that we as healthcare providers are very frustrated with our community’s behavior,” said Dr. Phil Imholte, family medicine physician, Grand Itasca Clinic & Hospital. “The blatant disregard for mask-wearing and people gathering with large groups of people has led to the rapid and nearly uncontrollable spread of COVID.”

Right now, Dr. Imholte says hospitals in the county are at capacity, nearing a reality he’s extremely uncomfortable with.

“If you want healthcare providers to help you, your grandmother, your uncle, your child, or your friends when they need any kind of care, now is the time to improve your behavior,” said Imholte.

He says currently, it would be difficult to be able to treat anyone experiencing a medical emergency other than COVID-19.

“I’ve had patients with severe cough for several weeks, and there’s no treatment that will help them,” said Imholte.

“We noticed our symptoms on Halloween. I found my husband unconscious on the floor and brought him to the emergency room,” said Anna Hussman, now recovering from COVID-19.

Hussman’s 36-year-old husband tested positive. The next day, at the age of 31, she came down with the unpredictable virus.

“We slept pretty much all day for four days straight,” said Hussman.

Now in recovery, Hussman continues to have lasting effects from COVID-19. She can’t taste or smell.

“I try not to leave the house because I get too tired when I get in the car to drive. I’ve had to pull over a few times actually,” said Hussman.

It’s this real testimony medical professionals are hoping sink in, helping people realize it’s up to us to abide by temporary rules to limit the spread and save lives.

“I think it starts at home. I think it starts with teaching your kids that this isn’t a joke and it’s serious. We need to practice good handwashing and mask-wearing,” said Hussman.

Since the start of the pandemic, more than 1,200 residents in Itasca County have contracted the virus. 19 lives have been lost.

Officials are asking the public to limit gathering size, wear masks, social distance, and meet with friends and family virtually if possible.

They also encourage residents to receive a flu shot right now to help your body built antibodies needed to fight off influenza.

Click here for more information from Itasca County Public Health Department regarding COVID-19.

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