May 25, 2024

Board hears 2021 COVID-19 update

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At last Tuesday’s Grant County Board of Commissioners meeting, Ann Stehn, EMPA, PHN, administrator of Horizon Public Health (HPH) gave an update on the COVID-19 pandemic, and how it affected the five county Horizon Public Health service area in 2021. Horizon Public Health’s service area includes Grant, Douglas, Pope, Stevens, and Traverse counties in Minnesota.

Stehn said the HPH staff devoted 16,384 hours of staff time to the COVID-19 response in 2021 and logged 1,680 miles. There were 9,004 COVID-19 cases in the HPH service area in 2021, resulting in 279 hospitalizations, 62 ICU admissions, and 68 deaths.

This compares to 633,404 cases in Minnesota, 28,773 hospitalizations, 5,260 ICU admissions and 4,530 deaths.

HPH  conducted 365 immunization clinics and administered 10,544 COVID-19 vaccinations, as well as 213 influenza vaccinations.

In the HPH service area, the top ten diseases include: #1 COVID-19, #2 Chlamydia, #3 Campylobacter, #4 Influenza, #5 Gonnorrhea, #6 Crypotosporidium, #7 Strep, #8. Giardia, #9 Salmonella, and #10. E. Coli.

“There were no active cases of tuberculosis and one new latent tuberculosis case in 2021,” she said.

Other business

Grant County Chief Deputy Jon Combs got the commissioners up to speed on significant court cases. He said Victor Morales, charged with the murder of his wife in Ashby, was finally sentenced on Monday after spending 518 days in jail, at a cost to Grant County of $29,000.

He remarked there are currently two Grant County women in jail waiting for trial on third degree murder charges stemming from a drug overdose.

Also, a suspect is in custody in Florida from a December 2020 overdose case.

“So the jail budget is stretched,” Combs said.

Combs said the department received a grant to purchase new AED’s for their patrol cars, nine total for around $18,000.

“We are the first department to get this grant and we will be recognized at a special ceremony at the sheriff’s convention this summer”.

County Coordinator James Standish, who is also Grant County HRA Administrator, informed the board that although he does not have a retirement date in mind, the county needs to start thinking about if they want the County Coordinator and HRA offices combined or separated in the future.

“I recommend they be separated,” he said. “But I would like to know what the commissioners think.”

A motion passed to separate the two offices in the future.

Grant County Highway Engineer Tracey Von Bargen asked for permission to seek bids on paving the outside shoulders of County Highways. Von Bargen said studies have shown that paving the outside shoulders adds a great deal to the safety of the highways. A motion passed giving Von Bargen permission to advertise for bids.

Von Bargen gave an update on the Highway #10 project, saying milling is completed from County #2 to #36 and the contractors are starting the first surcharge on the south swampy stretch. Wicks will go in next week.

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