North Dakota’s hospitals have reached their limit, and the coming weeks could push them past their capabilities, Gov. Doug Burgum said at a news conference on Monday, Nov. 9.

Due to a major shortage of health care staffing, the state’s hospitals have a severe lack of available beds. Rising COVID-19 hospitalizations and high noncoronavirus admissions, some resulting from residents who deferred health care earlier in the pandemic, have caused the crunch on medical centers.

Burgum said hospitals are implementing their “surge” plans, and some will be voluntarily stopping elective surgeries to free up staff. He added that the state will coordinate with hospitals to move nurses to medical centers in most dire need of staff.

In an attempt to alleviate some of the staffing concerns, Burgum announced that interim State Health Officer Dirk Wilke has amended an order that will allow health care workers with asymptomatic cases of COVID-19 to continue working in COVID-19 units at hospitals and nursing homes.