Health care executives in Minnesota pleaded with unvaccinated people on Sunday to stop the spread of Covid-19, saying that nearly two years into the pandemic, doctors, nurses and others across the state are "overwhelmed" and "heartbroken."
In an open letter published in the Star Tribune of Minneapolis and the Pioneer Press of St. Paul, the executives of nine large health providers said their emergency rooms are over capacity and their hospital beds are filled.
"How does this happen in 2021 - almost two full years since this deadly pandemic began?" they wrote. "How can we as a society stand by and watch people die when a simple shot could prevent a life-threatening illness? Your access to health care is being seriously threatened by Covid-19. We need to stop the spread!"
They added that patients suffering from cancer, strokes, appendicitis and other treatable problems may not be able to get care without delay because of the strain the pandemic has put on their operations.
The letter encouraged people to get vaccinated, boosted and to take other basic precautions.
Executives who signed the letter were from North Memorial Health; CentraCare; Allina Health; Mayo Clinic; Hennepin Healthcare; Essentia Health; Fairview Health Services; Children's Minnesota; and HealthPartners.
According to the most recent state health department data, adult beds in intensive care units at 57 hospitals in Minnesota - or 84 percent - were at capacity. The number of hospitals with non-ICU beds available for adults was 43 percent, or 56, according to the data.
According to data collected by NBC News, Minnesota has the 18th-highest vaccination rate in the country, with just over 64 percent of its population vaccinated.