Shots trend high in county
April 9, 2021
Carlton County seniors are winning the war on Covid, one shot at a time.
As of Tuesday, 94 percent of Carlton County residents 65 and older have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, according to Public Health and Human Services director Dave Lee.
Among all residents over the age of 16 — who are all now eligible to be vaccinated — 56 percent have received at least one dose.
“From a state percentage standpoint, I think we’re the seventh-highest [in vaccination rate] out out of 87 counties,” Lee said.
But the war isn’t won yet. There are plenty of people who are still waiting to get vaccinated, and some who don’t want it. “We are really encouraging people to call so we can get a sense of how many [vaccines] we need to cover the remainder of the county,” Lee said.
“We really want to emphasize to everyone that they don’t have to wait,” Lee said. “Your turn is now.”
On March 30, Gov. Tim Walz announced that 1 million Minnesotans had completed the vaccination process.
“Each person vaccinated moves us one step closer to getting back to normal,” Walz said. “One million Minnesotans completing the vaccine process is a remarkable milestone on the day all Minnesotans age 16 and older can get in line. Now, we’re ready to make sure everyone can get the relief from a life-saving shot so we can get back to all the things and people we’ve missed, and end this pandemic together.”
It is easier to get vaccinated now than ever before, Lee said.
The county has been holding drive-through vaccination clinics at the county’s Barnum garage every Thursday or Friday for weeks, and they held a joint clinic with the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa last week (see above for that story) that served 455 people in one day.
Anyone who wants a vaccine can call the county’s reservation center at 218-499-6310 between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Leave a message and someone will return your call to schedule an appointment. For now the drive-thru clinics will remain at the Barnum garage, but they could move to the county’s transportation building in Carlton in May, as the Barnum facility gets busier as the weather warms.
Numbers bumping up
According to numbers from the Minnesota Department of Health, the rate of Covid-19 infections have dropped substantially since the peak in November and December.
Between March 4 and April 4, however, the downward trend stops and for the first time since December, the number of cases increases over the previous month in Carlton County. According to MDH records, the county saw an increase of 150 cases, to 3,151 cumulative cases, and two more deaths.
Lee said the county reflects some of the trends seen across the state and the country, with increased cases likely due to the arrival of more contagious Covid variants. However, as of Tuesday, public health had not seen any “hotspots” like Ely and other parts of the state.
“We’re seeing an uptick for sure, but nothing like we saw before,” Lee said. “I think half the Minnesota cases are the UK variant now [but] we haven’t been notified of any specific variants.”
He wondered if the hotspots are being caused by people not following the social distancing and mask recommendations.
“That’s why we continue to ask people to practice good Covid reduction measures,” he said.
Lee also credited the various school districts in the county for responding quickly to any cases, and working with the county to get as many staff members vaccinated as possible.
“We were able to get their staff vaccinated fairly quickly relative to other counties, I think that helped,” he said.
People are continuing to get tested, he said. Right now there is no particular age group that is outpacing others with Covid infection rates. But the county has seen a dramatic increase in Covid cases among the elderly because so many are vaccinated, Lee said.
“So far, the vaccines also cover people for the variants,” Lee said. He explained that the Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are all “100 percent effective against severe illness and death.”
“We’re fortunate to have three such powerful vaccines,” he added.
As of Monday, April 5, a total of 16,123 people in Carlton County had at least one dose of the vaccine, and 11,369 had completed the vaccine series. A person is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving the last required dose of vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The next few weeks will be critical in the battle against Covid, but Lee is feeling optimistic.
“I’m hoping we can hit it really hard the next four or five weeks and get most of the general population with at least their first doses, and second doses in May and June. My hope is that people will be well protected going into summer.
My goal and my thought for the last few months has been Fourth of July … I just feel like the systems are clicking and it’s reasonable to believe we can get the majority of people in Carlton County two weeks past their second shot by early June.”
Lee is talking about county residents ages 16 and older, because the vaccines have not been approved for younger populations at this point. “As they approve vaccines down to 12 and younger populations, that’s a whole new ballgame,” he said.
All Minnesotans 16 and older are eligible to be vaccinated for Covid-19. Here’s a guide to getting a shot locally:
• Carlton County Public Health and Human Services is scheduling appointments for upcoming COVID-19 vaccination clinics. Call 218-499-6310 to schedule an appointment. Carlton County is using the Everbridge mass notification system to notify residents if there is availability for COVID-19 vaccines. Sign up to receive vaccination and other emergency notifications at https://member.everbridge.net/453003085611079/login.
• Community Memorial Hospital has a vaccination registration form on its website at https://cloquethospital.com/covid-vaccine /#regInterest, or residents may call 218-879-1271. The hospital will call people to schedule a vaccination.
• Gateway Family Health in Moose Lake: Call 218-485-2014.
• Cromwell Medical Clinic: 218-644-3811
• Some local pharmacies are also offering vaccination appointments, including Walmart and Thrifty White pharmacies.