Local health leaders lay out COVID concerns ahead of Christmas

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The two hospitals in town and St. Louis County Public Health partnered together to make a new PSA, and the message is: Please, get vaccinated, get boosted, wear masks in public, social distance.

This is important as the Omicron variant spreads, and as people gather again for the holidays.

Therese Tomanek, city councilor for Duluth, organized a press conference on Monday. "When I heard the NYT quote that 1 out of every 100 seniors has died from COVID, I knew I needed to reach out and provide some more education for our city."

She shared how her husband had a heart attack, and that he needed ICU care in the past year. "He had one-on-one care. Now I worry about other senior citizens, and if they can get that care, when we’re so short staffed. They’re stretched very thin."

Dr. Anne Stephen, Chief Medical Officer for Essentia Health East, said more staff are out on quarantine with critical exposures, and it’s definitely a problem.

Dr. Andrew Thompson, from St. Luke’s, is encouraging people get tested before getting together.

As for vaccines, he said that he’s seen some people change their minds. "A common thing I’m hearing, is that if a family member falls ill, then sometimes they’ll change their mind, if they see how real it is, and how it hits home," he said.

The state of Minnesota has added Monday the 27th to the testing days at the DECC. The testing site is open through Thursday.