County continuing to react to COVID-19 increases

Published 5:59 pm Tuesday, August 24, 2021

As COVID-19 cases rise in the county, so are concerns, according to Mower County Public Health Community Division manager Pam Kellogg.

On Tuesday, during the county board meeting, Kellogg brought the Mower County Board of Commissioners up to speed on the current surge of cases, reflecting a general rise from around the state and nation.

“I pulled a two week report and from Aug. 10-24, we had 216 cases,” Kellogg said. “We’re testing positive at 10.5%, which is a really high rate.”

Kellogg reported that today’s report included 37 more cumulative cases, with another 16 cases on the list for Wednesday.

However, the Minnesota Department of Health on Tuesday inflates that number because it is rolling in cases from Saturday and Sunday since stopping reports on the weekend. MDH reported Mower’s Tuesday count at 66 new cumulative COVID-19 cases.

The trend for those testing positive has reversed from last year in terms of who is driving the rise in cases. Of the 216 cases, 144 of them were in the 19-64 age bracket, with another 49 cases of 18 and under.

Only 26 cases were 65 and older, reflecting those who received the vaccine push first. Currently, everybody is eligible for vaccines except age groups 12 and under.

“We’ve definitely changed our demographics,” Kellogg said.

Making matters more troubling in the county is the lack of input being received from the state.

“We’re hearing crickets from the MDH [Minnesota Department of Health],” Kellogg said. “I’m assuming they are getting caught off guard with this sudden surge.”

In those last couple weeks, both county and city buildings have returned to requiring masks inside the premises and starting Wednesday, Mayo Clinic Health Systems is returning to offsite testing at its original location due to the increased workload related to testing.

There was some talk Tuesday regarding the possibility of a third shot or booster, with Kellogg explaining the difference between the two shots.

“The third dose is needed when they haven’t gotten enough immunity response because of a medical condition,” Kellogg said. “A booster means we did have a good reaction, but immunity is starting to wane. You need that booster to bring it back up.”

However, Kellogg also told the board that she wasn’t sure if Health and Human Services would be needed to deliver those shots.

Refugees possibly coming to Mower

Kellogg also reported to the board that Minnesota could be one of the states where Afghan refugees could be sent after being airlifted out of Afghanistan.

While there’s no specific numbers, Kellogg did say that the Minnesota Department of Health was saying it could be anywhere between 16,000-18,000 people.

Nothing official has been reported as of yet.