COVID-19

Illustrated is an image showing the ultrastructural morphology of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

The rate of new cases reported in McLeod County is growing rapidly, according to state data from the Minnesota Department of Health.

Numbers Monday from MDH showed McLeod County has had 4,755 confirmed COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic, and in the past month there has been a steady climb in the rate of new cases. From Friday, Aug. 6, to Friday, Aug. 13, the county had 55 new cases. Then in the week of Aug. 20 there had been 66 new cases, in the week of Aug. 27 there had been 86 new cases, the week of Sept. 3 saw 98 new cases, and last week there were 111 new cases for a total of 416 cases reported in those five weeks.

To put those numbers in perspective, McLeod County reported just 231 new cases during a five-week stretch at this time last year, which included an outbreak of cases at Seneca Foods in Glencoe and a mass testing event. The county also did not report its first week of triple-digit new cases last year until late October, as case rates began to explode.

Berit Spors, the county’s director of Health and Human Services, told the County Board last week that there had been 17 identified cases of reinfection since March 2021, including four in the past two weeks. The county was tracking 158 active cases requiring isolation. The county also recorded its first death related to COVID-19 since early June, bringing the total to 62.

“There are cases around again, probably more than I remember even at the peak,” said Board Chair Doug Krueger.

Minnesota updates weekly a list of congregate living facilities that reported a COVID-19 exposure in a resident, staff person or visiting provider. Cedar Crest of Silver Lake, GlenFields Living with Care, River Oaks at Shady Ridge and The Gardens at Winsted were all on the list as of the most recent update.

Late last week, McLeod County reached out to the state to ask about reopening COVID-19 testing at the armory. As it stands, county residents are reliant on health care providers and a few private entities.

“They’re just not able to keep up,” Spors said. “Especially with schools starting, we just know the need is going to be more than the sites can handle right now.”

For those who are eligible, the county will soon be providing third doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.

“We are now approved and have an updated protocol from our medical consultant to vaccinate those who are immunocompromised with the third dose,” Spors said.

Doses are provided to patients who have a letter from their health care provider instructing them to seek one from the county. Glencoe Regional Health and Hutchinson Health have the Pfizer vaccine, Spors said. She added she expects the COVID-19 booster will be approved as early as Sept. 20.

“We are ready and waiting,” Spors said. “We will be vaccinating a whole lot more people.”

According to state data available Sept. 8, about 50% of McLeod County residents have received one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. That includes 59.1% of the 12 or older population, 61.1% of the 16 or older population, and 85.8% of the 65 or older population.

“Those continue to creep up, but very slowly,” Spors told County Board members. “Slower than we would like.”