covid graph

Case numbers have improved since then

by Joni Astrup

Associate Editor

November has been by far the worst month in Sherburne County as far as numbers of COVID-19 cases.

There were 3,972 cases reported in the county that month — which is about half of the total since the pandemic began last spring.

The situation improved in December, with 1,715 cases reported.

Sherburne County has seen a total of 7,895 cases, with 7,701 of those off isolation. A total of 300 have been hospitalized and 66 have been in the intensive-care unit. Sixty-six people have died.

Sherburne County Health and Human Services Director Amanda Larson updated the county board of commissioners on the numbers in a briefing Tuesday.

She said the seven-day average number of COVID-19 cases continues to trend downward, which is a good sign.

Work, meanwhile, continues to roll out vaccinations.

Statewide as of Monday, Larson said there had been 78,402 doses of vaccine administered by not only public health but entities such as pharmacies and hospitals. Minnesota had received 300,000 doses of vaccine, she said.

“The state is really working quickly to distribute (the vaccine). At the same time, they are working carefully and prudently to make sure that they are gathering the necessary input and that the vaccine really goes out to those most at risk,” she said.

The county follows state guidelines regarding which groups of people get the vaccine first.

Not everyone who can get the vaccine is choosing to do so. Of the 357 EMS, law enforcement and firefighters in Sherburne County who fell into the Phase 1A group eligible to be vaccinated, only 120 opted to get the vaccine, Larson said.

Sherburne County got its first 200 doses of the Moderna vaccine on Dec. 23 and vaccinated approximately 170 frontline county and city law enforcement, first responders, firefighters and county health care workers on Dec. 26 and 29. They are scheduled to get their second dose of the two-dose series on Jan. 23 and Jan. 26, which is 28 days after the first dose.

The county has since received another 200 vaccines and was anticipating receiving another 100 doses this past week. The county plans to vaccinate more people who fall within the priorities established by the state next week “to get those 330 doses out the door,” Larson said.

Overall, she said it’s hard to plan because they don’t know from week to week if they will be getting doses of vaccine and, if so, how many. And they can only move into the additional vaccination phases as the state allows them to do so.

“This is complex,” Larson told the county board. “We’re building the ship as we sail it, but we are working as hard as we can, as fast as we can.”

Commissioners thanked Larson and her staff for their efforts and reiterated their position that getting people vaccinated is a top priority.

Vaccination efforts, meanwhile, also continue on other fronts like hospitals and pharmacies. Walgreens personnel, for instance, vaccinated nearly 200 residents and staff at the Guardian Angels Care Center in Elk River on Dec. 29. Guardian Angels had additional vaccination clinics planned for Jan. 26 and Feb. 23.

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