Sanford Health now predicting peak around Labor Day

During a Beltrami County conference call Friday afternoon, Sanford Health officials report that a surge of novel coronavirus cases, based on their modeling, may happen around Labor Day, but the number of patients expected at peak has been cut in half.

Kayla Winkler from Sanford Bemidji, said their new modeling from Sanford’s Sioux Falls location predict a later peak, or surge of patients needing treatment for COVID-19, around Labor Day, an update from modeling discussed earlier this month that predicted a peak in mid to late June.

Winkler added that the Sanford team is confident they could handle that surge. Sanford Bemidji’s fourth floor has been turned into an exclusive special care unit, and a second intensive care unit has been added as they expand ICU capacity.

Dr. Ralph Morris helped provide some local insight on the Minnesota Department of Health modeling released last week.

Morris added that the assumptions behind the modeling become more accurate with the passage of time, as the assumptions turn into hard data.

Governor Tim Walz’s executive orders on the closure of businesses and social distancing requirements have been met with some debate, and locally, Beltrami County commissioners are concerned that the measures are too drastic for this rural part of the state.

Commissioner Jim Lucachick quoted a statistic that 66 Minnesota counties have fewer than ten cases.

Sanford Health, according to Winkler, is preparing for the reopening of the state, but as elective surgeries are once again allowed to proceed, health officials will need to treat those patients as well as those suffering from COVID-19.

Sanford Health is also reporting that they are nearing two weeks without confirming a single positive COVID-19 test.

To date at the Sanford Bemidji Medical Center, there have been seven confirmed positive cases with five of those living in Beltrami County. So far, there have been 288 negative tests and 20 tests are pending for patients not currently being hospitalized.

Hospitalized patients are able to access Sanford Health’s new rapid testing, which can turn around results in as few as 45 minutes. Other tests have a turn around time of 24 to 48 hours.


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