Itasca County Health Officials Concerned as Delta Variant Spreads

Vaccination Rates Continue to Climb, but Health Officials Say More Work Needs to be Done

ITASCA COUNTY, Minn. – Health officials in Itasca County are looking to get ahead of the spread as the Delta variant of COVID-19 is being passed through community transmission.

“We have to get back to basics. Everyone is tired of COVID and no one wants to be doing this anymore, but we do know what works,” said Kayla Scrivner, COO at Scenic Rivers Health Services.

That includes masking, social distancing, and inoculations. But not everybody’s onboard.

“We’re all doing the best we can, but it has been a challenge to keep up with the demand right now,” said Scrivner.

Itasca County is home to over 45,000 residents of which 21,399 have been fully vaccinated.

“The numbers are really clear. Out of 21,903 Itasca residents fully vaccinated, 0.86 percent have tested positive,” said Kelly Chandler, division manager for Itasca County Public Health Department.

There have been 81 breakthrough infections in the county. In the past seven days, health officials reported 118 more cases, a number that continues to creep up after much lower cases reported in the month of July.

“It is so important to keep COVID and illnesses down and for parents to keep children home if they’re showing any symptoms,” said Chandler.

With school back in session, doctors and nurses are stressing the importance of following local guidelines.

“Please know, viruses can’t mutate if they don’t have a host. It is in all of our best interest to take preventative measures to slow the spread of COVID,” said Chandler.

These measures include masking, distancing, and staying home at the earliest sign of symptoms.

“One of the unique things we are seeing with the Delta variant is when one person in the family gets infected with COVID, we are now seeing the entire family test positive,” said Dr. Dan Soular, family practice physician at Grand Itasca Clinic & Hospital.

“It’s very contagious, and it’s impacting our school system and our healthcare system,” said Scrivner.

Vaccination rates continue to climb in Itasca. Health officials are watching the clock, waiting for the moment when children under the age of 12 are eligible to become vaccinated.

“We have science behind us. There’s not a lot I do in medicine that is 99 percent effective,” said Soular.

Referring to the vaccines as our best lifeline, Dr. Dan Soular says without enough support and cooperation, our hospital systems and the workers inside could soon be pushed to the brink.

“Every time we can keep even one COVID patient out of the hospital that opens our resources for our grandma’s our family members who may need hospitalization or ICU care,” said Soular.

“It’s so okay for you to change your mind and make a different decision. We have residents coming in now who weren’t certain about vaccines at first, and really for various reasons,” said Chandler.

Health officials in Itasca County also urge pregnant women to get the vaccine, as studies show it provides protection not only for mom, but the newborn after delivery.

They also say it’s becoming more important to think about where you’re going, who you’ll be around, and what type of setting you’ll be in.

Click here for more information from Itasca County Public Health.

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