The number of positive COVID-19 cases in Kanabec County has grown exponentially, setting a new single-day case record of 24 on Nov. 4. It took the county 144 days to record it’s first 100 cases; 35 days later it reached 200; 15 days after that the county reached 300. The time elapsed between the county recording 300 and 400 cases was a mere 6 days.
Kanabec County Community Health Director Kathy Burski said this data demonstrates how quickly cases are increasing locally.
“Remember that for every person that tests positive, they are most likely spreading the virus to at least two others, There is a lag of about three weeks from when people are diagnosed with COVID and when we will see increases in hospitalizations and deaths. If we do not contain the virus, the spread will continue to be exponential,” she said.
Mora Public Schools quickly transitioned from a hybrid learning model to full distance learning for all students as Kanabec County’s 14-day case rate per 10,000 population reached 47.49 for Oct.18-Oct. 31 time period.
“We understand that distance learning comes with many challenges for students, families and educators, but we feel this is the safest and most responsible thing to do at this time,” wrote Superintendent Dan Voce in a letter to parents. Voce cited the case rate may reach over 70 per 10,000 in the coming weeks. He noted the virus spread within the community including exposures, quarantines and positive cases of COVID-19 has reduced the number of staff available to effectively operate the schools.
At this time, Ogilvie Public Schools continue utilizing a hybrid learning model for elementary and high school students.
The fast spread of the virus draws concern from state health officials and hospitals about their capacity to treat Minnesotans with COVID-19. Minnesota is experiencing record-setting highs in new cases, hospitalizations and deaths.
According to a statement from the Office of Governor Tim Walz, Minnesota’s case positivity rate is above 10%— twice the level at which COVID-19 spread is considered controllable. Minnesota’s neighboring states have the highest infection rates in the nation, and 48 other states remain in a state of emergency.
Burski reported that Kanabec County has been able to keep pace with a larger quantity of contact tracing, and are training additional staff.
Burski expressed concerned about how well local community members are following safety guidelines.
“When I need to go out into the community, I am still seeing what feels to me, to be a large number of people that are not wearing masks and/or wearing them incorrectly. This includes both those working and those patronizing businesses. People are still gathering with people outside of their households which increases the chance of spread,” she said.
“It is going to take each one of us to step up and strictly follow the guidance in order to get control of the virus. We will all need to make sacrifices.”
Nov. 10, Governor Walz issued Executive Order 20-96 which tightens restrictions indoor and outdoor private gatherings; celebrations, receptions and other events; and bars and restaurants.
Best advice for facing fear
Slow the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, and remember to:
• Wear a mask
• Wash your hands
• Stay home if you are sick
• Stay 6 feet from others
“Every person needs to take the same precautions as described above. People may not be afraid personally, but the hope is that they care enough about the health of their friends, family and neighbors to also take these precautions,” said Burski.
Burski offered another piece of unconventional advice to help reduce fear and help the community move forward: be mindful of where you get your information.
“Misinformation can lead to fear. People should make sure they are getting their information from a reputable source,” she said.
“Coming together as a community and making small sacrifices now (social distancing, masking, limiting social gatherings, etc.) means we can get this virus under control and eventually get back doing more of what we enjoy. Be encouraging of others to follow the recommended guidelines, look for reputable information sources, stay hopeful, stay distantly connected to friends, family and acquaintances that need support.
“Kanabec County has many resources and outstanding community members; together we will get through this.”