County reports first death from Covid-19
August 21, 2020
While the statewide rate of positive Covid-19 cases appears to be slowing in the wake of the mask mandate, Carlton County reported its first resident death from the disease earlier this week.
According to the Minnesota Department of Health, the person was in their 80s and had underlying health conditions. Age and other health conditions are both risk factors.
“This information was very difficult to hear, as effects of the pandemic are starting to hit closer to home,” said Dave Lee, director of Carlton County Public Health and Human Services, offering sympathies to the person’s family.
Lee said data is not showing any slowdown in Carlton County.
The number of confirmed cases in Carlton County has been rising more steadily as the summer has played out. From June 10 to July 1, the total number of cases (since March) grew by five, from 78 to 83. From July 1 to July 22, the number of cases grew by 24, to 107. Over the next three weeks, cases climbed by 38, to 145 on Aug. 12. And over the past week, the total number of cases climbed another 13, to 158 on Tuesday, Aug. 18.
“It is important to remember all of the roles you play — family member to elderly, co-worker to someone with underlying health conditions — as you make decisions to travel near or far from home,” Lee said.
The number of positive cases has also continued to climb at the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa’s two health care centers on the reservation and in Duluth. The band has seen nine positive tests now among reservation residents with eight tests still pending out of 871 tested as of Aug. 18.
Statewide the number of new positive cases (359) on Tuesday, Aug. 18 was one of the lowest numbers in weeks. The average number of cases has also declined since the start of August, from 697 to 600.
Officials say it often takes two to four weeks to see the effects of any public health strategies or major events (including large gatherings) to show up in the case numbers. The statewide mandate for Minnesotans to wear masks indoors in public spaces was implemented on July 25.
Public Health officials ask that people continue to be vigilant about safety precautions like wearing a mask, washing your hands and staying 6 ft. away from others. While most cases are mild, if you, or someone you know does have a mild case, it is still extremely important to follow guidelines for handwashing, mask wearing and physical distancing.
Senior living exposures
Two Carlton County senior living facilities remain on the state list of congregate care facilities that have reported a Covid-19 exposure at the facility. As of Tuesday, Cloquet’s Evergreen Knoll and New Perspective in Cloquet remain on the state list, while Cromwell’s Villa Court and Sunnyside Health Care Center dropped off.
Exposure is defined as a person diagnosed with COVID-19 who either visited, worked, or lived at a congregate care facility while they were contagious. It doesn’t necessarily mean that any residents were infected with the coronavirus.
Earlier this week, the Washington Post reported on a study showing that wearing the type of thin neck gaiters intended for athletics in place of a mask may actually be worse than not wearing any kind of mask.
The study, published at advances.sciencemag.org, examined the efficacy of different facemasks for filtering droplets expelled during speech. A fitted N95 mask had the lowest droplet transmission rate, while a breathable neck gaiter had the highest, measuring at 110 percent because the mask appeared to disperse the largest droplets into a multitude of smaller droplets, which are actually airborne longer. The study found that some cotton cloth masks were almost as effective as standard surgical masks. It found that bandanas reduced the amount of droplets by only about half, a much lower rate than many cotton masks.