Essentia Doctor Details COVID Reality in the Northland, Vaccine Progress

At Essentia Health in Duluth, capacity is stretched thin with both COVID patients and the normal patient population.

Dr. Melissa Simonson, section chair of hospitalist services at Essentia Health, says over the last two weeks they have seen a slight improvement in the number of COVID patients.

Right now,  20-25 percent of regular medical patients are COVID positive, and 30-35 percent of ICU patients are COVID positive.

“Despite the stability that we’ve seen over the past few weeks, we still are within that window of a Thanksgiving surge we are anticipating,” said Dr. Simonson.

With the Christmas holiday looming, Dr. Simonson is encouraging all residents to stay within a small circle. She says to avoid anyone that’s not in your close circle.

“We recommend people stay home for the holidays,” said Dr. Simonson. “We are worried about the potential surge that could come over the first few weeks in the new year due to a lack of people following regulations over the holidays.”

When asked about what she would say to those who still believe the pandemic isn’t a big deal, Dr. Simonson released the following statement.

“I think we’re still in a crisis. It is starting to improve, at least what we’re seeing here in the Northland, but across the country, it’s still surging. We’re expecting small bumps in numbers for months to come until we have a vaccine,” said Dr. Simonson.

Dr. Simonson is excited about the recent news regarding the Pfizer COVID vaccine.

She will be getting it as soon as it’s available and encourages all Northland residents to do the same.

“The main side effects that you’re hearing about are things that you see with any vaccine — fever, headache, muscle aches,” said Dr. Simonson.


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