Sherburne sees ‘big increase’ in community spread

by Joni Astrup

Associate Editor

Sherburne County has seen an increase in confirmed cases of COVID-19, and one health expert said “the storm is coming in our numbers.”

Kara Zoller, Sherburne County health promotion supervisor, told the County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday that the county had been averaging about 10 cases a day, but that is rising. Monday, Oct. 12, for instance, saw 30 more cases.

“We are looking at a big increase in community spread and the number of confirmed cases that we’re getting,” Zoller said.

As of Tuesday, there had been a total of 1,399 cases of COVID-19 in Sherburne County.

A total of 19 deaths had been reported as of Thursday. Current numbers are available on Sherburne County’s COVID-19 dashboard at https://tinyurl.com/yasbss6y. The dashboard is updated on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

In a related matter, Zoller noted that people were being tested for COVID-19 on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, Oct. 13-15, at a testing site set up at the River’s Edge Convention Center in St. Cloud. Sherburne County was helping staff that site. Zoller said they hoped to do about 600 tests a day. The free, no-barrier COVID-19 testing allowed anyone to get tested, whether they had symptoms of COVID-19 or not.

A similar testing site was also running those days in Anoka and one was scheduled to be open in Monticello on Oct. 20-22.

COVID-19 saliva testing sites have opened in Duluth and Winona as well. Additional saliva testing sites were announced by state officials this week.

While COVID-19 news is everywhere, Zoller reminded people of the importance of getting a seasonal flu vaccine.

“It’s really important, especially so we don’t overwhelm the health care system ... with what they are dealing with, with COVID,” she said.

Board keeps an eye on tax situation

How people are coping with paying their property taxes in the midst of a pandemic is on the radar of the Sherburne County Board of Commissioners.

Board Chair Felix Schmiesing had asked that the board discuss possible property tax penalty relief during a meeting on Tuesday after learning that Stearns County was acting on that matter.

“I just felt that it was appropriate that the County Board discuss this,” Schmiesing said.

The deadline for people to pay the second half of property taxes was Thursday, Oct. 15. County Auditor/Treasurer Diane Arnold told the County Board on Tuesday that 81% of second-half property taxes had been paid.

“We’re sitting, really, in a good spot,” she said.

She said they had not taken any calls or in-person requests from taxpayers looking for relief from the second-half deadline, or to delay penalties for late payment.

It was the consensus of the board to keep an eye on the matter and consider action if necessary.

The St. Cloud Times had reported that the Stearns County Board of Commissioners voted to waive late penalties for second-half property taxes for those impacted by the pandemic. Penalties will be waived for payments received by Dec. 1. The previous deadline was Oct. 15.

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