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COVID-19 cases shoot up again in Brown County

BROWN COUNTY — Brown County Public Health reported 65 new confirmed COVID-19 cases, the highest single-day amount to date, on Monday, Nov. 16.

That compares to 44 new laboratory-confirmed cases on Sunday, Nov. 15. Over the last three days, 168 new cases have been confirmed in Brown County, raising the total number of confirmed cases in the county to 857.

The total number of active cases/in isolation as of Monday was 264. There have been five COVID-19-related deaths in Brown County.

In November, there have been 485 new COVID-19 cases in Brown County, up from 185 in October and 79 in September.

“This is the highest number to date but I do not expect it to go down,” said Brown County Public Health Director Karen Moritz. “There is much more community spread – it is across the county not concentrated in one place. The data we have now is indicating that 34% of our cases are considered community spread with no known contact. Many of those cases have been out with friends or families.”

Moritz said as people continue to gather with friends and family outside their household family indoors, not masked, and not social distancing this will continue to spread. Whether that is in homes, at events such as wedding receptions, holiday gatherings or even dining out with groups.

“The other spread we are seeing is once there is a case in a household we do spread to most or all of the family members,” said Moritz. “We also see transmission in groups of friends hanging out at any age including the 15-19 age population – occurring mainly outside of the school building.”

“Over the weekend we did see an increase in children under age 4 that we have not seen previously – we have a total of 9 under the age of 4. Four of them over the last couple days,” said Moritz. “This rise in cases in increasingly having an impact in various ways in our community.”

She detailed the issues:

• Healthcare providers are stressed with outpatients, inpatients, COVID 19 testing and health care workers out on quarantine or with their children that are quarantined – it is difficult to staff to the level needed.

• Businesses are without employees that are COVID positive or out on quarantine making it difficult for them to provide goods and services.

• Long-term care facilities are facing caring for residents with COVID 19 with extreme staffing shortages.

• Schools are facing staffing issues and the fact that students are on distance learning due to quarantine – models may need to change.

• Some of the sports teams are quarantined and forfeiting competition.

• Increased hospitalization and death.

Recommendations are:

• Face covering at all times when in public unless outside greater than 6 feet from others.

• If it is possible stay 6 feet from others in public except for your immediate family group. If you are less than 6 feet try to keep it for a short period of time.

• Wear your mask properly – over the mouth and nose at all times.

• Follow the policies that workplaces have put into place.

• Follow the policies that businesses have put into place when you do business with them.

• Follow the recommendations that are in place for gathering for worship or attending a funeral.

• Do not host or attend large gatherings – consider delaying celebrations or do them virtually.

• With this much spread if you gather inside with people that are not your immediate family (that you normally live with) please mask and remain 6 feet from each other – no more than 10 inside at one time and 10 outside – no more than 3 households at one time.

• Consider alternative holiday plans – ZOOM meals with others is a great idea.

• With this much community spread consider your dining out to be with immediate household family.

• Organizations and businesses, seriously consider continuing with virtual meetings or make sure everyone is greater than 6 feet from each other masked and in a room together for a very short time.

• Masking in restaurants or at an event with food – you are to remove your mask ONLY to put food in your mouth and to take a drink NOT the entire time. Always mask if you leave your table for any reason.

• If you are COVID 19 positive ISOLATE yourself from others – remain home for 10 days or until feeling better and fever free for at least 24 hours.

• If you are a close contact of a COVID positive case – quarantine for 14 days – remain home – you can order and pick up with no contact.

• If you even have one symptom of COVID 19 stay home except to go get tested – after you have tested stay isolated if you are symptomatic until your test is back.

• If you are high risk for complications of COVID 19 home is safest.

• Answer your phone or call back when the health department calls or sends you a text.

“We want to continue to support our businesses but dining out with your immediate household family or carry out might be preferred right now,” said Moritz. “My staff is stretched beyond capacity in many ways with our responsibilities directly related to this increase putting them at risk for stress related illness and we need them healthy right now.”

The highest total COVID-19 cases by age group in Minnesota on Monday were 26,743 for ages 20 to 24, according to the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH). The 25-29 age group has 22,012 cases.

Brown County Public Health also posted on its Facebook site Monday that flu vaccinations are especially important for children, adults 65 and older, pregnant women, and people with asthma, diabetes, andother long-term conditions who are at high risk from flu complications.

Flu vaccines are available at the New Ulm, Sleepy Eye, and Springfield Medical Centers, as well as your local pharmacy.

If you don’t have health insurance, contact Brown County Public Health to receive your flu vaccine at 233-6820.

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