June 5, 2020

Grant County Herald

Community news from the prairie to the lakes

First known case of Covid-19 detected in Grant County

Nearly two months after the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in Minnesota, a case of the deadly disease has now been reported in Grant County by the Minnesota Department of Health.

The MDH has notified Horizon Public Health that it will investigate the case and do the contact tracing to find out who else might have been infected by the person. It will also work to determine how the person was infected.

“Cases of COVID-19 have been increasing across the state and we now have it confirmed in Grant County,” Public Health Administrator for Horizon Public Health Ann Stehn said in a news release Saturday. “Public health officials state that the recommended actions for the general public remain the same as we all work together to slow the spread of the virus.”

Minnesota’s first case of COVID-19 was confirmed March 6. In less than two months, the total number of cases in the state climbed to over 7,200, with 428 deaths reported by MDH Monday. Of those deaths, 345 are among people living in long-term care facilities. There were 166 people with COVID-19 in intensive care units in Minnesota.

For five consecutive days, the state has added between 400 and 600 confirmed cases a day as testing ramps up. So far, nearly 86,000 tests have been completed.

Of those diagnosed with COVID-19, 1,271 have needed hospitalization, with 3,015 of those diagnosed no longer required to isolate themselves.

Friday, Grant County was just one of seven of Minnesota’s 87 counties that had yet to see a confirmed case of COVID-19. Now the number is down to six and includes neighbors Stevens and Pope counties. The other four counties are in northern Minnesota.

The diagnosis brings the reality of the deadly virus to the county and underscores the necessity for strict observation of the safety measures state and local health officials have been telling residents about for the past two months.

Those measures include:

– Stay home if you have cold- or flu-like symptoms for seven days after your illness onset and three days after your fever goes away without fever reducing medicine (whichever is longer), and avoid close contact with people who are sick.

– practice social distancing when public – staying at least six feet apart from others not living in your home or apartment.

– Cover your coughs and sneezes

– Avoid touching your face

– Clean and disinfect commonly touched surfaces

– Don’t gather with others and follow the state’s stay-at-home guidelines

– Limit your trips to buy essential items

– If possible, call first before you go to a medical facility if you are feeling sick. Healthcare workers will give you instructions on how they will assess your symptoms and safely handle bringing you inside to protect other patients and staff.

– Wear a face covering when in public to protect others. 

County-​Cases -Deaths

Stevens​-0​-0

Pope​-0​-0

Grant-1-0

Traverse-2 -0

Big Stone-2-0

Swift-2-0

Douglas-3-​0

Wilkin​-11​-3

Otter Tail-17-0

Kandiyohi-​167​-1

Clay-176-13

Stearns-​589​-0

* Minnesota ​7,234​-428

* United States​ 1.2 million-68,565

* As of Monday morning

When a person is confirmed to have COVID-19, the case is assigned to the county in which they live, not where they work, are hospitalized or where they were seen by medical staff during a clinic visit. 

Most rural Minnesota counties have seen very few cases of COVID-19, leading some to question how serious and wide-spread the disease is in their areas.

However, when a case is identified in a county, it reveals what most medical experts believe is simply the first of a wave of cases that could be coming. Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin found that with just a single reported case in a county, there is more than 50 percent likelihood that “a sustained, undetected outbreak — an epidemic — is already taking place.” 

If there are two cases, then the odds of a sustained outbreak rise to 70 percent, and with five cases, the odds climb to 85 percent.

“I worry that many local officials are waiting until there is clear evidence of local transmission before taking action,” Lauren Ancel Meyers, a professor of biology and statistics at the university, told the New York Times. “The message is, we should not wait.” 

Based in Alexandria, Horizon Public Health provides services to the residents of Grant, Stevens, Pope, Traverse and Douglas counties.