Cloquet, Carlton County Prepares for Spread of COVID-19

City officials, emergency personnel and hospital personnel taking extra precautions.

CLOQUET, Minn.- As one positive case is confirmed at the Moose Lake Prison in Carlton County, the City of Cloquet and County Health officials are taking stronger precautions to try and minimize the virus’s presence.

“We are preparing for the worst, and hoping for the best, and expecting something in-between,” Community Memorial Hospital CEO Rick Breuer said.

The Hospital is screening everyone who comes in and either sending them home to recover if they have symptoms, or to the Emergency Room for triage treatment.

“If we could test the outpatients, the ones we sent home, perhaps we would’ve identified a positive case by now,” said Dr. Charles Kendall.

Just like the County and the rest of the nation, tests are limited. Criteria is the same: only sick healthcare workers, hospitalized patients with respiratory illness, and nursing or assisted living home residents.

Hospital staff said they have enough Personal Protective Equipment for now.

But if COVID-19 does hit the community, the foreseen surge in patients needing care will run their supplies short. Even with the community handmade masks they have been receiving.

Other preparations are being taken for the virus, including increasing their capacity.

“We have been asked to look at and provide info about what one could do in the means of adding beds, adding critical care beds, adding what’s called alternative care sites–both onsite within the hospital, as well as community-based,” Breuer said.

They’re also in discussions with hospitals in Duluth to help alleviate some of the stress on their employees.

“Maybe it would be best if our patients were served in their facility, if they become critically ill, and I think that would be the best way,” Dr. Kendall said. “And we could, in return, take some of their less critically ill patients in our facility in exchange.”

Breuer added that plans are in place to make sure they don’t lay off any of their employees.

Meanwhile Cloquet Police and Fire officials said they’re running low on sanitizer and masks.

“As everyone here has stated our Personal Protective Equipment inventory is, are precarious,” said Area District Fire Chief Kevin Schroeder. “We are stable for right now but if this begins to extend into one, two, or even three months, our supplies are not sufficient to sustain that.”

Emergency personnel ask that people limit 911 calls to more severe emergencies.

Police said non-emergency calls–where there is no suspect and/or damage amounts to $1,000 or less–will be handled over the phone and email to maintain social distant guidelines.

In addition to those CDC guidelines of washing hands, not touching your face, and covering your cough, “try to keep your immune system as strong as possible,” Carlton County Director of Public Health and Human Services Dave Lee said.

“Manage your stress level as best you can, and take care of yourself both physically and mentally as best you can,” he continued.

Stress, that effects even professionals doing their best during these trying times.

“I apologize if I get emotional, but we are all really scared,” Dr. Kendall said, fighting back tears. “Everyone in our community, everyone at our facility.”

Categories: Community, Coronavirus, Health, Minnesota, News, News – Latest News, Public Safety