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More than 900 Mayo Clinic staff in Midwest diagnosed with Covid-19 in past two weeks

The number comprises almost one-third of the 2,981 cases among the medical center's staff since the start of the pandemic in March, the center said.
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The Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., on Sept. 29, 2020.Eric Miller / Reuters file

More than 900 Mayo Clinic staff members in the Midwest have been diagnosed with Covid-19 in the past two weeks.

A spokesperson for Mayo Clinic told NBC News in an email that the number — only from the nationwide medical system's Minnesota and Wisconsin locations — comprised almost one-third of the 2,981 coronavirus cases among its Midwest staff since the start of the pandemic in March.

Ginger Plumbo said a majority of the staff who tested positive, about 93 percent, contracted the virus from “community spread.”

“Across the Midwest, Mayo Clinic currently has approximately 1,500 staff with work restrictions related to COVID-19 exposures, or are unable to work due to a COVID-19 diagnosis,” Plumbo said in a statement.

She said the staffing shortage caused by the recent outbreak forced the medical center to shuffle health practitioners across state lines — and even call retired staff back into service.

“We are bringing retirees back from recent retirements, having research nurses move into patient care roles temporarily, bringing staff in from our other sites,” Plumbo said.

She added that Mayo Clinic was reducing elective care and redeploying those staff to help with staffing related to Covid-19.

Amy Williams, dean of clinical practices at Mayo Clinic, said at a press conference on Tuesday that the Intensive Care Unit at its Rochester, Minnesota, campus was at full capacity with 32 Covid-19 patients and is hoping to expand that center by a dozen beds, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported.

“That’s not good,” Williams said. “It tells us we’re in a surge.”

Williams said the recent Covid-19 outbreak among staff was an example of how transmissible the virus was.

“It shows you how easy it is to get COVID-19 in the Midwest,” Williams said. “Our staff are being infected mostly due to community spread, and this impacts our ability to care for patients.”

“We need everyone in the communities we serve to do their part to limit the spread of COVID-19,” she urged.