By Theodore Tollefson As COVID-19 cases have increased throughout the United States during the month of August, Dakota County has seen an increase in case numbers reported throughout this month as …
By Theodore Tollefson
As COVID-19 cases have increased throughout the United States during the month of August, Dakota County has seen an increase in case numbers reported throughout this month as well. Since Aug. 10, Dakota County has reported at least 75 or more new daily cases spread across the county.
Dakota County currently sits with the highest community transmission rate of COVID-19 listed by the CDC. The high transmission rate mandates that all people, vaccinated or unvaccinated, wear masks in all indoor locations.
“Recently, the Minnesota Department of Health and the CDC released best practices for schools including universal masking. The Dakota County Board has chosen to follow the CDC/MDH guidelines and has required masks be worn indoors by staff and visitors at county buildings,” said Gina Adasiewicz, Public Health Director for Dakota County.
As of Aug. 23, the Minnesota Department of Health has reported that 74.9 percent of Dakota County residents 16 and older have received at least one shot while 70.8 percent of residents 16 and older are fully vaccinated.
“Dakota County has been monitoring and reacting to the COVID-19 situation since January 2020,” said Adasiewicz. “Dakota County Public Health works closely with the Minnesota Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to create and share safety messages that keep community members healthy.”
Dakota County remains one of only six counties in the state of Minnesota that has at least 70 percent or more of the population with at least one shot or fully vaccinated. The other counties include Cook, Carver, Hennepin, Olmsted and Washington counties. The statewide vaccination rate currently sits at 64.8 percent.
Even with Dakota County being among the top six vaccinated counties in the state of Minnesota, it is still at great risk of seeing a surge of COVID-19 cases from variants of the virus that will transfer at the Minnesota State Fair. The Minnesota Department of Health is preparing for a surge of cases from both those returning to the State Fair, college students returning to campuses and schools resuming in the following weeks.
“I think it’s safe to say that we would expect to see an increase in cases following the State Fair,” said Doug Schultz, communications coordinator for the Minnesota Department of Health. “We certainly don’t know to what extent that it will be and how that happens is really in the hands of Minnesotans. More people need to get vaccinated and wear a mask to the fair. That would bring an increase of cases from the fair down, but likely won’t stop the spread.”
Both Adasiewicz and Schultz encourage Dakota County residents and all Minnesotans who have yet to get vaccinated to do so as soon as possible. In recent weeks, the CDC has begun to consider COVID-19 booster shots for those already vaccinated. The FDA has also approved of the Pifzer vaccine as safe for all adults on Aug. 23.
“Obviously we are encouraging vaccination, and that’s the most important thing that people can do is get vaccinated. Every opportunity that we have we are encouraging people to get vaccinated. We have also been working in schools, workplaces, organizations and other state agencies to encourage people to wear masks when appropriate, that social distancing is very effective as well. Our approach has been what we call a multi-layered approach that we really need to reduce the spread of COVID-19,” said Schultz.
“Dakota County Public Health provides technical assistance to each school district with COVID-19 and other health guidance. If school staff, students, or families have further questions about the state’s best practices, please call Dakota County Public Health at 952-891-7834 or the Minnesota Department of Health’s COVID-19 Public Hotline at 1-833-431-2053,” said Adasiewicz.