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Renville County reports steady drop in COVID-19 case rate

Renville County has seen its COVID-19 case rate drop to 19.8 per 10,000, and has now provided at least one vaccination dose to 9.2 percent of its population. But there are frustrations over obtaining more vaccine and the constant changes in plans for it.

WCT.STOCK.Vaccine
Renville County is "in step" with the state with 9.2 percent of its population having received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Erica Dischino / West Central Tribune file photo

OLIVIA — Renville County’s rate of COVID-19 infections has dropped to 19.8 per 10,000, a development called “truly, truly encouraging” by Jill Bruns, public health director.

She told the County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday that the county has now recorded a total of 1,405 COVID cases since the county’s first case was diagnosed on March 14, 2020.

The health director reported that 1,349 county residents have now received their first dose of a vaccine and 325 have completed the two-shot series. That represents 9.2 percent of the county population.

The county is very much “in step” with the state in administering the vaccine. Neighboring Kandiyohi County has provided some level of immunity to 10.4 percent of its population as well, she said.

The challenge remains getting a vaccine. Bruns said her office would be receiving no more than 100 doses this week, despite requests for more. The Olivia Hospital and Clinics will not receive its next supply of vaccine until the 10th of this month.

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The public health staff will administer the 100 doses to workers in education. Bruns said the vaccine was expected to arrive Wednesday and plans were in place to put it “in arms” with a special clinic Thursday — essentially as quickly as it can be thawed and safely administered.

The commissioners said they have been receiving phone calls from people wanting to be vaccinated. They expressed frustrations with how plans for vaccination continue to change.

“ I feel your pain,” said Bruns. She said public health staff have also expressed their frustrations with the continued changes. She pointed out that public health teams across the state developed plans for vaccinations using state funds and now keep receiving new directives.

Bruns said her staff is more than prepared for administering mass vaccinations if available. The plan is in place that would provide for a “throughput” of four minutes per person being vaccinated.

Board Chairman Bob Fox said the continuous changes are especially frustrating because they make it difficult for the targeted population, seniors.

The good news is that the current vaccines are essentially 100 percent effective at preventing serious illness, said Bruns.

She also told the commissioners that information from the Department of Health indicates that Minnesota’s aggressive response to the COVID-19 surge late last year saved lives. According to that information, Minnesota recorded 3,372 deaths from Oct. 11, 2020. thru Jan. 5, 2021. It represents a death rate of 59.8 per 100,000 people.

During that same period, North Dakota recorded a death rate of 142.6 and South Dakota a rate of 145.8 per 100,000. The two states did not employ aggressive measures. If Minnesota had the same death rate as South Dakota, it is calculated the state would have experienced 8,224 deaths, or 4,852 more deaths than was the case during that period.

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The commissioners expressed some skepticism, pointing out that a comparison of death rates from the start of the pandemic would be better.

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