Mayo, Others Post Pleas to Take COVID Seriously: 'We're Overwhelmed'

Marcia Frellick

December 15, 2021

Editor's note: Find the latest COVID-19 news and guidance in Medscape's Coronavirus Resource Center.

Leaders at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, and Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, New Hampshire, are among the most recent voices pleading for COVID-19 vaccinations as available beds dwindle amid the current surge.

"We are overwhelmed," said a tweet from Mayo Clinic's Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine team. The plea was signed by CEOs from nine other hospital systems in Minnesota as well.

"We're heartbroken. We're overwhelmed. The situation is critical," the tweet read. "Please get vaccinated, wear a mask, wash your hands and get tested for COVID if you feel sick." Mayo also took out an ad with that message in the Star Tribune, the advisory board reports in its daily briefing.

The publication reported that a spokesperson for the Mayo Clinic said its Rochester campus "has been treating approximately 100 patients with Covid-19 on a daily basis, some of the highest levels of Covid-19 patients we have seen in Rochester throughout the pandemic."

Michael S. Calderwood, MD, MPH, an infectious diseases physician, epidemiologist, and the chief quality officer at Dartmouth-Hitchcock, wrote in a commentary in the New Hampshire Bulletin: "We're now in the biggest surge of cases since the pandemic broke out nearly two years ago. Currently in the state, we're averaging 80 times more cases per day than where we were this past summer (and around 1.5 times more cases than our prior peak last winter, when vaccines were only just becoming available)."

He noted the state's positivity rate is back where it was in April 2020, and in some areas of the state the rate is as high as 25%.

"I wish I could say things are getting better, but they're not. The current modeling suggests that things will get worse over the next couple of weeks," Calderwood writes.

As of Tuesday, 78% of the available intensive care unit beds in the nation were in use, 20% of them used for COVID-19 patients, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services.

Others straining under the new cases include hospitals in New York, where providers are seeing an "alarming jump" in COVID cases and hospitalizations, Gov. Kathy Hochul said today, according to a report by news site PIX11.

"We anticipated a spike after Thanksgiving and it has arrived," Hochul said. "This is an alarming jump statewide."

The governor said the average number of cases per 100,000 people in New York has surged by 58% since Thanksgiving. The average number of hospitalizations per 100,000 people in the state jumped 70% in that time.

The story is the same in other countries as well. The Associated Press reports today that "[t]he omicron variant is spreading so rapidly it has the potential to overwhelm Britain's hospitals."

All Hands on Deck

"Our hospital workers are doing all they can in this pandemic," Dartmouth's Calderwood writes. "It's time for everyone else to do all they can, too."

He and other healthcare leaders make the same urgent plea for five simple steps: "Get vaccinated. Get boosted. Wear a mask. Keep your distance. And wash your hands."

Marcia Frellick is a freelance journalist based in Chicago. Follow her on Twitter at @mfrellick.

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