November 20, 2020 -- More than 900 Mayo Clinic staff in Midwest locations have contracted the coronavirus in the past 2 weeks, according to ABC News.

Most of the infections — about 93% — happened in the community rather than at work as cases surge in the region, particularly where staff members live and work in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

“It shows how widely spread this is in our communities and how easy it is to get COVID-19 in the communities here in the Midwest,” Amy Williams, MD, executive dean of the Mayo Clinic Practice, told reporters during a call on Tuesday.

The 905 Mayo Clinic employees represent more than 30% of the total number of staff cases during the pandemic, she said. The medical center is “very worried” about staff members’ health and having enough people to care for patients, she added.

Across the Midwest, 1,500 Mayo Clinic employees have COVID-19 work restrictions after contracting the virus, being exposed to others or caring for sick family members. About 1,000 of those employees are at the main campus in Rochester, MN. Mayo has 68,000 employees nationwide.

“The COVID-19 surge continues to seriously affect the communities that Mayo Clinic serves across the Upper Midwest,” according to a statement released on Wednesday. “Alarming increases in community exposure rates and test positivity significantly challenge Mayo Clinic’s staffing and capacity to serve patients with COVID-19 and other conditions.”

Mayo Clinic is asking health care workers to come back from retirement and is bringing in staff from other sites to help with staffing shortages, ABC News reported. In some cases, nurses who served in research roles are being moved to patient care, and elective procedures are being paused so staff can help COVID-19 patients.

In coming weeks, hospitalizations and deaths are expected to increase as the number of daily coronavirus cases continues to rise. The Mayo Clinic Hospital’s Saint Marys Campus in Rochester is increasing the number of beds available for patients, Williams told reporters.

“We need to be very vigilant and not assume that things are going to settle down,” she said.

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ABC News, “Over 900 Mayo Clinic staff in Midwest have contracted COVID-19 in past 2 weeks.”

Mayo Clinic, “Media statement regarding additional restrictions to address COVID-19 surge in Minnesota.”

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