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Commissioners OK flu grant funds

BROWN COUNTY — Brown County commissioners unanimously approved a $10,100 Influenza Project 2020 grant Tuesday to enhance influenza vaccination coverage as a critical part of COVID-19 response work.

Brown County Public Health Director Karen Moritz said she would like to see more county residents getting influenza shots this year.

“Brown County historically has had about 35% of its residents get the influenza vaccine. This is low compared to many surrounding counties. I’d like to see us be able to increase that to 45%,” Moritz wrote in her board request.

“Increasing influenza vaccination coverage is an essential step to decrease stress on the health care system,” said Moritz.

The Minnesota Department of Health awarded a $10,100 grant that was originally $9,281 with a revision to purchase a data logger and portable vaccine units.

Commissioners also got a COVID-19 update from Moritz.

“We have seen a significant increase in Brown County COVID-19 cases over the last few weeks,” reported Moritz. “We have more cases so far in November than we did the entire month of October. They seem to double each month. The increase is consistent with experience across the state.”

Moritz said most of the new cases come from community spread via social interactions of people.

“This has our healthcare providers extremely stressed, doing case contact tracing,” said Moritz. “We’ve spent a great deal of time working with long-term care facilities. Kids are not getting infected in schools, but sometimes in sports events, by their families and at social events. We see a lot spread at family gatherings, even small ones, and funeral luncheons and weddings.”

Moritz said her office still gets reports of people not wearing masks or wearing them improperly, not covering their nose.

“Mask up, social distance, wash hands and get tested. We’re getting more saliva tests and drive-up testing now,” she said.

Moritz said plans are being plan for the coming mass vaccination events.

“Healthcare workers will get them first. They’ll be by appointment only and masks must be worn,” she added.

Moritz said Brown County Public Health (BCPH) continues to work with businesses, schools and other entities to prevent the spread and limit the illness so businesses can stay open and children can stay in school.

Commissioners unanimously approved:

• A request for BCPH to join a nine-county regional COVID case investigation and contract tracing coordination effort through the Minnesota Department of Health, motion by Commissioner Tony Berg, seconded by Dean Simonsen.

“Like other Minnesota counties, we’ve got a backlog,” Moritz said. “The State of Minnesota suggested we join this. We’ll continue to prioritize our own cases and get help with the rest.”

• Purchasing a new router for the Brown County Highway Dept. to replace a 2014 Marathon pavement cuter showing wear, motion by Commissioner Berg, seconded by Borchert. The new router has a dust bag to filter silica dust. The new router cost is $16,995. The 2021 state bid cost is $18,450.

• A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) from the Brown County Agriculture Society (BCAS), Probation/STS/Juvenile Crew, motion by Commissioner Jeff Veerkamp, seconded by Commissioner Scott Windschitl.

The STS and juvenile crew assisted setting up and taking down county fair animal shows and repairing buildings. Recently, the BCAS tore down the old 4-H building and rebuilt a large shed.

Discussion began about sharing the building between the BCAS/STS/JV crew to do smaller projects, split wood, and have a secure tool storage location. The building is not heated or insulated.

STS and probation would like to assist financially (when they have funds) with the BCAS with insulating the building for more efficient winter use and build a locked, tool storage room.

“This is a win for all three groups as the BCAS benefits from continued assistance from STS and STS/JV crew has a warm place to work in the winter and shelter from the weather in the summer,” wrote Brown County Probation Director Les Schultz in the board request.

“All three groups will share tools and have their property marked. The MOU is for five years with a 90-day out clause should something major happen with one agency or another,” added Schultz.

• Planning Commissioner recommendations including a conditional use permit application filed by Heather Holles for a 17.15 acre tract, Section 20, North Star Township, to allow a dog kennel with up to nine dogs all in the A-1 Agricultural Protection Zone, motion by Berg, seconded by Veerkamp.

Preliminary plat applications by Daniel Lang, six acres, Section 35, Burnstown Township to add one acre on the east side of Lang’s 1st Subdivision, motion by Berg, seconded by Windschitl; Randy Thordson, Section 28, Lake Hanska Township, for a multi-lot subdivision, 3.5 and 6.8 acre lots and subdividing one lot into two lots, motion by Berg, seconded by Borchert.

• Closure and sealing of Brown County Landfill monitoring well and drilling a replacement well, motion by Simonsen, seconded by Windschitl.

The State of Minnesota determined two new wells are needed to maintain monitoring since the landfill footprint expanded. In addition, a monitoring well is kinked in two places, five and 40 feet down. A local well driller looked at the well and is unable to fix the deep kink.

Fritz Busch can be emailed at fbusch@nujournal.com.

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