2 people die from COVID in Dodge County
After going nearly nine months without recording any deaths, Dodge County experienced two COVID-related deaths within the past week.
Public Health Director Amy Caron reported the first death on Dec. 2. She said a person in their 90s had died from the virus. A second death involving a woman in her 80s was reported over the weekend, according to Caron, who said the woman was not living in a long-term care facility.
“Our sincere condolences go out to these families during this difficult time,” Caron said. “We hope that in the near future vaccine distribution will occur to help combat this virus so others do not have to suffer.”
Until last week’s death, Dodge County had been one of only three counties in Minnesota that had not experienced a COVID death.
In her weekly report on Monday, Caron said Dodge County had 104 new cases over the past week, bringing the county’s total to 990. Fifteen county residents are currently hospitalized.
In neighboring Steele County where Caron also serves as public health director, there have been 215 new cases over the past week with 26 people currently hospitalized. She said there are people in both counties that are requiring intensive care treatment, though she did not have an exact number. Steele County also reported another COVID death this past week. Steele has now experienced eight deaths since the pandemic began in March.
Olmsted County’s positive cases have jumped to 7,547 with 38 deaths.
While COVID-19 continues to rage through the area, there was a bright spot in Caron’s weekly report on Monday.
Caron announced that the COVID-19 vaccine is expected to arrive in the area by the end of the month. However, it won’t be getting to the general population until at least early spring.
The first priority for those receiving vaccine, Caron said, will be health care workers, long-term care facility workers, paramedics and EMTs at ambulance services and Public Health workers. She expects the vaccine to “roll out quickly” to those workers. But, she added, it could take up to 10 weeks for all of those workers to get vaccinated.
Not all details are known yet about the vaccine, but Caron said it looks like it will be a series of two shots given 28 days apart.
“This is really encouraging that we are getting the first round of vaccine,” said Caron. “Vaccine is our No. 1 priority right now.”
Once the vaccine is available to the public, Caron expects her department to offer drive-thru clinics to get everyone vaccinated. The clinics would be similar to what Public Health offered earlier this fall for flu shots. “We had a lot of good comments about the drive-thru flu shot clinics,” Caron said. “The elderly people especially liked them because they didn’t have to get out of their vehicles and go into a building,” she added.
Members of Caron’s staff have made vaccine planning and distribution their top priority. She said her department will also continue doing trace investigations on new COVID cases that arise.
Caron hopes to release more details about vaccination within the next week so that people can start determining if it’s something they want to do.
One silver lining from the latest statistics is that Caron did not see any huge jumps in either Dodge or Steele counties from the Thanksgiving holiday. “Knock on wood, we haven’t seen a spike in cases. It’s encouraging that we didn’t have a spike due to Thanksgiving,” Caron said. “Possibly people abided by the (governor’s) executive order and didn’t get together in groups of people,” she added.
Within the next 10 days, Caron expects further direction from state leaders on what people should do for the Christmas and New Year’s holidays. The current executive order restricting bars and restaurants expires on Dec. 18. Caron said she wouldn’t be surprised to see that order extended out further.