St. Paul infectious disease doctor says COVID-19 delta variant causing surge to continue

The Minnesota Department of Health on Monday reported more than 4,000 new cases of COVID-19 infections statewide and 34 more deaths — one of the highest single-day tallies in both categories dating back to December 2020.

MDH also said hospitalizations related to COVID illnesses are on the rise again. Dr. Peter Bornstein, an infectious disease doctor who does epidemiology work with St. Paul Infectious Disease Associates, told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS he has personally seen hospital beds fill up recently to the point of some patients being turned away who qualified for hospital care.

"The beds have been scarce for a long time and you can talk to anybody who works in a hospital and they will tell you stories about patients who cannot bet admitted even though they should be admitted," Bornstein said. "They may be going to hospitals elsewhere and there are patients spending hours in ambulances going to other parts of the state."

Bornstein said the continuing rise in new cases and more hospitalizations, in recent weeks, is directly connected to what he said is a "very transmissible delta variant."

"Immunity from the vaccines wanes and we know that," Bornstein said. "And we also know that if you’ve been infected in the past you could still get infected again, and even if you’ve been fully immunized you can still get infected, which tells you there is still a lot of COVID circulating out there, and that is all tied to the delta variant."

Bornstein said based on what’s happening in Southern states right now compared to Northern states, there seems to be an indication that the spread of the delta variant has a "seasonal component to it."

"In Southern states, their season seems to be in the summer when people are indoors in air conditioning and in the Northern states the season seems to be now when we all start to move indoors a little more," he said.

Bornstein said anyone who has received a COVID-19 vaccine should take the first opportunity possible to get a booster shot because the research has shown that vaccinations are the best way to control the spread of the delta variant and protect people from serious illness and hospitalizations if they become a breakthrough case and contract the virus.