Only two COVID-19 cases in June, so far

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By Reed Anfinson
Swift County Monitor-News

Though the number of COVID-19 cases continue to increase in western Minnesota the number of deaths caused by the disease remains low.

Since the first cases were recorded in the five counties served by Countryside Public Health in early April, there have been just two deaths though the total number of cases has climbed to 129.

Chippewa County recorded a death from the disease caused by the coronavirus May 31 with Swift County recording its first death attributed to the disease June 5. Swift County’s death was a person who was over 90-years-old.

Minnesota has now recorded 33,227 COVID-19 cases and 1,385 deaths. What is frightening for older residents of the state and country is that a very large percentage of those deaths are among people over 70 years of age.

In Minnesota, 79 percent of the deaths, 1,093, have been among the residents of assisted living facilities or nursing homes. The age group of 80 to 89-years-old represent just 4.6 percent of those infected but 34.1 percent of the deaths. The mortality rate among the elderly – the number dying if they get the disease – is far higher than for young people.

While the age group between the ages of  zero and 49 represent 66 percent of the cases, they represent just 1.9 percent of the deaths. Those in their 80s represent just 4.6 percent of the cases, but 34.1 percent of the deaths.

COVID-19 Infections & Deaths
in Minnesota as of June 21

Age    Cases        %    Deaths        %      %
0-19      3,294    10.0%     0        0.0%      0%
20-29    6,440    19.6%     2        0.1%      0%
30-39    6,627    20.1%    10       0.7%      0.2%
40-49    5,212    15.8%    14       0.0%      0.3%
50-59    4,593    14.0%    65       4.7%      1.4%
60-69    2,797    8.5%    160     11.6%      5.7%
70-79    1,583    4.8%    269     19.5%    17.0%
80-89    1,503    4.6%    471     34.1%    31.3%
90-99       816    2.5%    362     26.2%    44.4%
100+          46    0.1%      27      2.0%     58.7%

Swift County’s first case of COVID-19 was April 6. It was than 24 days before the second case was confirmed May 1. From May 1 to May 30, 16 additional cases were confirmed in the county. June saw one case confirmed on the first day of the month and a second case June 15. A new case hasn’t been confirmed in the past eight days.

While cases of COVID-19 in Swift County seem to have plateaued for now, Chippewa, Yellow Medicine and Kandiyohi counties continue to see a steady rise in the cases they are recording.

    COVID-19 Cases June 1 to June 22
County               Cases    Cases    Change
Swift                      19          20           + 1   
Pope                       9          10           + 1
Stevens                  1            2           + 1   
Lac qui Parle          3            4           + 1   
Big Stone               6          14           + 8   
Chippewa            51           67         + 16   
Yellow Medicine    6           24         + 18
Kandiyohi          497         560         + 63

Since the first of June, Kandiyohi County has added 63 news cases bringing its total to 560 as of Monday. Yellow Medicine had just six cases to start the month out but is now up to 24. Chippewa County has added 16 cases so far in June, going from 51 to 67.

Countryside Public Health continues to monitor the cases in its five counties, providing assistance to those who have been quarantined. Based in Benson, Countryside provides public health services to Swift, Chippewa, Yellow Medicine, Big Stone, and Lac qui Parle counties.

At the start of June, Countryside’s five counties had 85 COVID-19 cases to monitor. That total number of positive cases in the five counties was at 129 as of Monday, up 44 from June 1. Many of those cases represent people who have now recovered. Back on May 5, there were just seven cases in the five counties.

Countryside has spent about $85,000 on dealing with the coronavirus so far, Commissioner Pete Peterson, District 3-south Benson and Torning Township, reported at the county board’s June 16 meeting.  However, Countryside is saving money by its staff not traveling as much, he said.

When the coronavirus started spreading, Countryside received a $144,000 grant to provide public health services, Peterson said. Now, under the new CARES Act, additional funds could be available. “We don’t know  for sure,” he added.

To keep operating as it is now with the coronavirus and COVID-19 cases to monitor, it would require a $14,000 increase in Swift County’s contribution to Countryside’s budget, or an 11.5 percent increase, Peterson said.

Peterson, who serves on Countryside’s board, said Executive Director Liz Auch wasn’t advocating for that but it is a starting point. For 2020, Swift County is contributing $121,416 to Countryside’s budget.

There are so many moving parts right now to Countryside’s budget including whether or not it will get additional state and federal funding for the COVID-19 fight. “There are many possibilities out there. We definitely said we couldn’t go 11.5 percent. It has to be much lower,” he said of the potential increase in Countryside’s Swift County payment.

State says youth sports can resume
Youth outdoor sports can return to games and scrimmages on Wednesday after being on pause during the coronavirus pandemic, Minnesota health officials said last Friday.

The Minnesota Department of Health also announced that indoor youth sports can resume games and scrimmages as of July 1.

Full team practices for all sports were allowed to start Wednesday. The Health Department recommended a phased-in approach to the reopening of all sports.

“I think it was a deliberate and intentional rollout,” said Todd Johnson of the Minnesota Amateur Sports Commission. “They just wanted to get it right.”

Minnesota Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said it’s important to look for opportunities for children to “engage in activities that promote health and well-being.”