COVID-19 cases on rise in Brown County

Deb Moldaschel
The Sleepy Eye Herald Dispatch
The Sleepy Eye Herald Dispatch

Do you pay attention to the number of COVID-19 cases in Brown County? Have you noticed how quickly the numbers are going up?

The first cases in the county were confirmed in late March/early April. For the next couple months the number slowly rose. By Sept. 1, Brown County reported a total of 132 confirmed COVID-19 cases. The total on Nov. 3 was 420.

Six months for 132 cases, three months for 288 more.

Yes, the number of cases in Brown County is rapidly increasing.

“In September we had a total of 79 cases,” said Jaimee Brand of Brown County Public Health. “In October we had 185 cases, more than twice as many. And in just the first three days of November we have another 49 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Brown County.”

Brand, RN PHN, serves as Brown County Public Health Department’s Deputy Incident Commander and Public Information Officer for the agency’s COVID-19 pandemic response. In spite of a busy schedule, due to the increasing number of cases in the county, she took the time to answer a few questions on Tuesday morning.

Asked if there were any specific incidents or events that have caused outbreaks in Brown County, Brand said no, that the cases reflect widespread community transmission.

“We are seeing people who have traveled out of state or to other areas in Minnesota, who contract COVID-19, and then it is spread within households,” Brand said. “Social lives are affecting schools and work places.”

“Of course, the data we have is only as good as what we get during case investigation—what is reported to us,” said Brand, “and we do have a good success rate with case investigation and contact tracing.”

Brand said when a person who resides in Brown County tests positive for COVID-19 the information is reported to the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), which in turn informs Brown County Public Health. That is the point when the case number for each day is reported to the public. It is also the point when the case investigation and contact tracing process begins.

To handle this work load, Brand said, the county previously hired three intermittent part-time staff and approved two more positions on Tuesday.

“These staff members conduct case investigations—calling to learn of people who may have had contact with the infected person and reaching out to those contacts,” said Brand. “They also record the data through the MDH system.”

Did Brand have advice for the public? “It’s the same,” she said. “Social distance, wear a mask, and wash your hands.”

Governor Walz: Amid surging cases of COVID-19, it’s more important than ever to heed experts’ advice

With new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continuing to increase across Minnesota, Governor Tim Walz today [Nov. 3] doubled down on his call for Minnesotans to follow leading infection control experts’ advice to slow the spread of COVID-19. The Governor encouraged Minnesotans to continue taking proven precautions: mask wearing, avoiding crowds, maintaining social distance, and getting tested.

“The virus takes no days off. While many are focused today on the election, COVID-19 is continuing its merciless spread across our state,” said Governor Walz. “I’ve said from the beginning the virus’ spread will dictate our course and we are well into a dark chapter in the story of this pandemic. It is more important than ever that Minnesotans heed the advice of Dr. Birx and every other person who knows something about infection control – wear a mask, avoid crowds, keep distance from others, and take advantage of the many testing opportunities we have all over the state to find out your status.”