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Rochester, MN (KROC-AM News) - The exhaustion and emotional toll are real.

That was the message shared today by Mayo Clinic Nurse Kim Brakke, who serves as the Nurse Manager of the Mayo Clinic COVID Unit at St. Marys Hospital. She, along with representatives from the Olmsted Medical Center and Olmsted County Public Health Director joined Rochester Mayor Kim Norton Norton for a "virtual" news conference to update the community on the impacts of the ongoing COVID-19 surge.

While both the Mayo Clinic and the OMC Hospital still have open beds available, Brakke says the rising number of COVID patients is putting the planning and preparations that began in the spring to the test. Everyone involved in the briefing strongly urged the community to join health care workers in following COVID safety measures and emphasize the effectiveness of wearing a mask.

The Minnesota Department of Health today reported another 68 coronavirus related deaths statewide, including another death involving a resident of Winona County. There have now been four COVID deaths reported in Winona County over the past two days.

COVID-19 hospitalizations also hit a new record high today. State health officials say 1784 Minnesotans are currently hospitalized due to the coronavirus infection and 369 are being treated in intensive care units.

Just over 6800 new confirmed and probable infections were reported today throughout Minnesota. 103 of the new cases were found in Olmsted County. The state health department reported almost 54,300 tests were completed yesterday for a statewide daily positivity rate of about 12.5-percent.

Olmsted County Public Health Director Graham Briggs today reported the positivity rate in Olmsted County has come down a bit this week and has been running at around 10-percent. The county's daily update also shows a slight decline in the number of known active cases, which has dropped below 900. The local COVID-19 dashboard stopped listing daily testing totals after the Collaborative Testing Site at Graham Park close last weekend, but Mayo Clinic and Olmsted Medical Center officials say the combined average testing total for their new indoor testing facilities is over 1300 daily.

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