COVID numbers up slightly, but hospitalizations remain low

city council

Clay County Public Health Administrator Kathy McKay.

Nancy Edmonds Hanson

“Everyone has pandemic fatigue after two full years,” Clay County public health administrator Kathy McKay told the Moorhead City Council Monday. But the coronavirus continues mutate into new strains – some minor – that are keeping health authorities on their toes, including the omicron BA.2 subvariant that predominates across the country.

Some 85% of present cases are attributed to the original omicron’s “sister virus,” she said. While apparently no more virulent, it is estimated to be 30 to 60% more contagious. “The vaccines and boosters have been effective in terms of keeping down hospitalization and death,” the registered nurse added.

The northeastern U.S. is seeing an increase in cases, she said, adding, “We’re hoping that doesn’t happen here. Reported cases and hospitalizations remain low.” Numbers reported by the Vault test site at Thomas Edison School in Moorhead, however, may not be an entirely reliable measurement, since those who are using the free home test kits provided by federal and state governments do not report positive results.

The local case count has risen from just 15- to 20 per week to 61, she reported – a level still considered low transmission. A more accurate estimate, McKay added, may be the testing for virus in wastewater surveillance here and in other Minnesota sites. Those readings by the University of Minnesota do show a small increase.

Clay County Public Health continue to hold vaccine clinics for the initial series of Pfizer and Moderna, along with first boosters for all eligible people and second shots for those over 50 years old. Boosters are also provided for those 12 and up (Pfizer) or 18 and up (Moderna) who are severely compromised; McKay recommended individuals consult their own physicians for guidance.

The Vault testing site at 1110 14th St. S. continues to be open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday and from 11 to 4 Sunday. Residents of both Minnesota and North Dakota can be tested either there or at Vault’s location in Fargo. Clay Public Health’s vax clinic dates and times are published on its website. They’re typically held from 9 to 4 Wednesdays at the Family Service Center, 715 11th St. N.

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