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Carlton County cases of COVID-19 continue to grow


March 27, 2020

Since the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in Carlton County over the weekend — when an inmate at the Moose Lake prison tested positive — cases here have continued to grow.

Carlton County officials reported a second lab-confirmed case of COVID-19 in a county resident early Wednesday, April 1. The person is a Carlton County resident who had contact with a lab-confirmed case, and that is the presumed exposure, but the case is still under investigation by the Minnesota Department of Health.

By Wednesday afternoon, the number of people who had tested positive at the Minnesota Correctional Facility in Moose Lake had grown to three, with an additional three tests still pending and none there with negative results yet. By Thursday morning, April 2, the number of confirmed cases at the prison in Moose Lake had grown to four, with three tests pending.

Meanwhile, the county reported a second confirmed case in a Carlton County resident.

So numbers are unclear, but it seems the county could have two residents with confirmed cases plus whatever number of cases are confirmed at the prison, which was four on Thursday and seven on Friday.

The MCF-Moose Lake currently serves 1,062 inmates, and employs a total of 369 staff members.

Although disease can spread more easily in a congregate, or group setting, people living in places like the prison in Moose Lake or the Minnesota Sex Offender Program are a priority population for testing.

Illnesses there are more likely to be identified, which is a good thing, Carlton County public information officer and public health nurse Meghann Leavitt pointed out.

Department of Corrections spokesperson Nicholas Kimball said the DOC worked with the Department of Health to identify a handful of people who had close contact with the original inmate who was confirmed positive.

“Those with close contact were isolated since they were known to have contact with a suspected case, which is the protocol directed by MDH,” Kimball said in an email response to the Pine Knot.

Staff members have been given guidance for preventative measures they can take to help protect themselves and their families or community members, but there is no effort to quarantine staff from the wider community, the DOC spokesman said.

READ MORE IN THIS WEEK'S ISSUE OF THE PINE KNOT NEWS, on newsstands Thursday afternoon and in mailboxes on Fridays and follow our website and Facebook page for up-to-date reports. Subscribe on this website for full internet access and a print copy each week in the mail. This online story was updated at noon, April 3.


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