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Pandemic continues to roll through Kandiyohi County with hundreds of active cases

The coronavirus pandemic is nowhere near done in Kandiyohi County. At Thursday's meeting of the Kandiyohi County Board of Commissioners Human Services Committee, county Health and Human Services Director Jennie Lippert said there are more than 300 active cases, and less than 60%t of the eligible population has been vaccinated. The county continues to push people to get vaccinated or get their boosters.

120321.N.WCT.KandiCoCOVIDUpdate
A nurse prepares to administer a COVID-19 vaccine during a drive-through public vaccine clinic in early March 2021 in Willmar. The pandemic continues to spread through the county, where only 57 percent of the eligible population have been vaccinated against COVID-19. According to Kandiyohi County Health and Human Service Director Jennie Lippert the county's current testing positivity rate has been the worst of the pandemic. Erica Dischino / West Central Tribune file photo
Erica Dischino

WILLMAR — The ongoing coronavirus pandemic is continuing to impact Kandiyohi County. As of Thursday, 303 residents have an active case of COVID-19, and the pandemic total sits at 9,861 people in the county having tested positive for the virus, based on data from the Minnesota Department of Health . That correlates to just over 22% of the county's total population having been infected since March 2020.

One hundred and eight residents have died.

Kandiyohi County Health and Human Services Director Jennie Lippert updated the Kandiyohi County Board of Commissioners on the pandemic during Thursday's Human Services Committee meeting.

Kandiyohi County Public Health remains in close communication with Carris Health about the pandemic, including testing, vaccinations and hospital inpatient cases. Lippert said Rice Memorial Hospital has several inpatient COVID-19 cases, and the health care provider continues to see a high testing positivity rate based on the tests given by Carris Health.

There has also been an increasing number of vaccinated individuals being admitted to the hospital with breakthrough infections, Lippert said. Both the Centers for Disease Control and the Minnesota Department of Health continue to report vaccines remain highly effective in keeping people out of the hospital or dying from COVID-19.

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The county continues to urge people who have not been vaccinated to do so. According to Minnesota Department of Health data, 57.5% of the county's vaccine eligible population, which is now all those 5 years and up, have at least received one dose of a vaccine. That translates to 22,947 people.

That also means more than 40% of the population remains unvaccinated and at a higher risk of being infected and dealing with a severe case .

According to the CDC's most recent available data, in September, an unvaccinated person had nearly a six times greater chance of being infected with COVID-19, and was 14 times more likely to die from it than an unvaccinated person.

COVID-19 vaccinations and booster shots are now widely available in the community. All those eligible can receive a COVID vaccination — and recently the eligibility for booster shots was further opened to pretty much every adult who previously has been vaccinated.

Carris Health offers vaccines by appointment and will also be holding vaccination clinics for the next four Saturdays from 9 a.m. to noon at the Willmar Main Clinic at 101 Willmar Ave. S.W. Patients can receive COVID-19 vaccinations, boosters for those who need them and flu shots.

Kandiyohi County Public Health continues to hold its weekly vaccine clinic from 1 to 3 p.m. every Wednesday. The county has both the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines available, which are approved for those 18 and older. Public Health nurses have also been visiting nursing homes to administer vaccine boosters and are available to help the schools with clinics if asked, Lippert said.

Vaccines are also available at area pharmacies. The Minnesota Department of Health has an online vaccine locator tool available for those looking for open slots.

COVID-19 testing is available throughout the county, Lippert said. Carris Health offers both curbside testing seven days a week and tests administered at urgent care. Area pharmacies also offer tests. For those wanting to take a rapid test, Carris Health in Paynesville has that option, Lippert said.

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The county remains committed to reaching out to the public to try and increase the number of people vaccinated. Lippert admits it has been difficult to change the minds of those set against the vaccines. In some cases, it takes those people having a personal and severe experience with COVID-19 to change their mind.

" ... there is such a divide between those who trust and believe, are interested and want the information, and those (to whom) that it doesn't matter how many times you tell them or what you tell them," Lippert said. "If it comes from Public Health or it comes from their best friend who is a physician, they are still not going to opt into the vaccine."

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