Clay County Public Health Director, Kathy McKay reported to the county commissioners at their October 20th meeting that the latest data from the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) indicates that Clay County experienced about 2000 confirmed positive Covid-19 cases to date with 43 county deaths. As of October 15, Clay County has 334 active cases. Three people are currently hospitalized.
Minnesota statistics show 124,000 confirmed positive cases and 2239 deaths. 8900 people required hospitalization across the state to date with 2414 needing intensive care unit nursing.
McKay added, “We know the numbers are rising. We can see what is happening across the country. The numbers are climbing steadily. National infectious disease experts anticipated a peak. They just didn’t anticipate it coming so soon. Hospitalizations are rising across forty states. For the Midwest, there has been a 45% growth in new infections in the past two weeks.”
Cheryl Sapp, Clay County Public Health Nurse, reported that the free community saliva testing site opened on Saturday, October 17, at the former Thomas Edison School, located at 1110 S. 14th St. in Moorhead. Hours are:
· Monday, Tuesday, Friday; 12-7 PM
· Saturday 7 Sunday: 10 AM-4 PM
Walk-ins are accepted. Appointments are encouraged and may be made at: https://mncovidtestingappt.as.me/schedule.php
Sapp reported the data collected on the saliva testing site’s opening day, “327 people were tested with a positivity rate of 9.785%. 164 individuals were tested Sunday.” The public health department doesn’t recommend testing children under age four because it is difficult for them to provide enough saliva for an accurate test.
Kathy McKay added that Cass County made their static testing sites available to Clay County residents providing more than 12,000 tests at no cost when Clay County didn’t have local testing available. She thanked North Dakota Governor Burgum and the Cass County Health Department for that service. McKay is working with MDH and the both governors’ offices to enable Cass County residents to have free access to the Moorhead saliva testing site in the absence of a similar site in the Fargo area. She said, “Because North Dakota provided over 12,000 free tests, I felt like we could be good stewards back to North Dakota in providing services.”
Clay County Nursing Director, Jamie Hennen, shared MDH information. Hennen reported, “The health commissioner reports an increase in cases with 3000 new cases reported over the weekend. Monday was the 10th consecutive day of daily reports of over 1000 new cases. The positivity rate is growing faster than the testing rates. Positive cases increase was 9.6% over the past week and the testing increase was at 7.8%.” Hennen reported that though there are increased testing opportunities, there are increasing positive case numbers from community spread.
Hennen recommended the public check information about safe Halloween activities at: https://www.health.state.mn.us/diseases/coronavirus/holidays.html#halloween
Public health staff reminded the commission that until there is a safe vaccine, people must continue to mask, maintain 6’ of social distance, and avoid large gatherings. Most new cases are coming from community spread.
Clay County Administrator Stephen Larson and HR Director Darren Brooke presented the CARES Act Committee update. Phase 1 Small Business relief grant checks have been distributed. Phase 2 reached its deadline on October 15 with 20 applications. The CARES Act Committee found 16 applications qualified for a total of $160,000 in small business grant relief. They noted that Phase 2 applications were available county-wide.
The commission approved additional CARES Act relief dollars be applied to carpet in the IT department for $3462 because moving walls to become Covid-compliant wrecked the existing carpeting. They approved $2,781 for Family Service Center (FCS) security. $59,000 was approved to upgrade wireless technology at the FSC. With increasing numbers of laptops used in the department due to Covid-19, the existing access ports were in danger of overloading and crashing.