Covid graph

Kanabec County: Daily Confirmed Cases of COVID-19

The Delta variant wave had only just begun to ebb; now healthcare staff are bracing themselves for what is likely to be the worst weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic to date. 

The increase in use of at-home tests has made it a little more tricky for health agencies to track positive cases since those test results are not reported to the Minnesota Department of Health. 

“It is really difficult to provide a true picture of what is happening in January,” said Kanabec County Community Health Director Kathy Burski. 

Burski said cases being reported to MDH are down but this is likely an underreport of numbers. 

“Each day there are 5-10 staff/student tests reported to the schools that are not included in official count through MDH. The schools are required to report cases that they become aware of to MDH but they are not included in the count,” explained Burski. 

To understand how the Omicron wave will affect Minnesota and the Kanabec County area, Burski has carefully watched how it has affected other areas of the country. 

“I would hope that we would see our peak in the next 3-6 weeks. As long as the virus can find unvaccinated hosts or people with waning or low immunity, it will continue to cause infection and potentially mutate again,” she said. 

Burski said the number one thing people can do is to get vaccinated and boosted when eligible. 

Public Health is offering clinics every Friday and Welia Health continues to offer vaccinations daily by appointment.

The coming strain

At Welia, already overworked hospital staff are bracing for more patients. 

Welia released the following statement: “We believe that the most significant challenge in the next 30 to 60 days will be staff absences due to Omicron variant of COVID-19, and are working to develop a variety of strategies to meet that challenge. 

“To help support our healthcare workers, their families and communities, we are again strongly urging you to wear a mask, get vaccinated and stay home if you’re feeling ill. 

“Also, only go to the ER if you have an emergency. We will not be performing rapid COVID-19 testing in the ED or Urgency Center unless the patient is expected to be admitted into the hospital.”

Kanabec County had its highest number of cases in November 2021 with 519 positive cases reported. December, while it had fewer cases reported, had 13 deaths. 

The trend of hospitalizations and deaths tend to lag behind an increase in cases.

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