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1 more dies of COVID

NEW ULM — COVID cases in Brown County continue to climb with 92 additional cases and one death reported in the last week.

The COVID case numbers reported in September have already exceeded the cases reported in August, and there are still 10 days to go.

Brown County Public Health Director Karen Moritz confirmed many of the new cases are skewing younger. Of the new cases reported this week, 22% were 18 and younger.

This means over a fifth of COVID cases is among the school-age population. Moritz said this is common across the state. A higher percentage of seniors are vaccinated against the virus. In Brown County, 92.5% of people over 65 years have received one dose of the vaccine. However, the vaccine is not yet available for kids 12 and under.

Moritz said there have been cases of virus transmission in some Brown County schools. Students and staff have contracted the virus. Based on reports, Public Health does not believe the spread is excessive in schools.

Moritz explained it is difficult to know the true number of people infected. Since the beginning of the pandemic, Public Health has only been able to report the number of people who test positive. The number of people with the virus who are not testing could be higher.

The introduction of at-home COVID tests further complicates the numbers. Families could test at-home and find out they are positive for the virus and quarantine, but not report it to Public Health.

Moritz does not discourage at-home testing but does ask the public to report the results of at-home tests.

Moritz said the Center for Disease Control is still recommending people attending indoor events or large gatherings wear masks; however, this is not a requirement, and most people are not following the recommendation.

“As long as we have large gatherings happening without masks and social distancing, this will continue to happen and it will be the unvaccinated,” Moritz said.

The new COVID cases are primarily occurring with the unvaccinated. COVID cases are on the rise as are hospitalizations, but Moritz said it is still not as severe as it was in November 2020. She believes this is because of vaccinations.

In Brown County, the majority of senior citizens are vaccinated, and 62.4% of people eligible for the vaccine (12 and older) have been vaccinated. Moritz is hopeful the vaccine will be approved for younger children shortly. Until then, she encourages all eligible people to continue vaccinating and follow CDC recommendations on masking.

“We all need to contribute to solving this problem,” she said.

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