|10/8/2021 3:39:00 PM|
Health director to board: County needs to up its Covid game
It could be the variant virus dubbed “Delta” or it could be caused by the weather changing or it could be greater population numbers being indoors— but Chisago County is seeing “climbing” Covid-19 case numbers, according to Health and Human Services Dept. Director Robert Benson.
The nine hospitalizations recently consisted of an unusual number of people in their 20s and 30s and not just elder citizens, he added.
This trend coupled with not-so-great county vaccination rates is concerning.
Benson got authorization from county commissioners to use covid-relief aid to hire a Community Health Services Lead. He told the Chisago County Board this employee will help alleviate pressures on regular staff and get programs that generate federal revenue, such as family home visiting nursing, back on track.
Commissioner Marlys Dunne, who did ultimately vote with fellow commissioners to okay the position, asked if adding this one employee will truly have an impact on vaccination data and reduce virus cases.
Benson responded, “You are right we have spent a lot of time and money on (covid).” He explained that this grant funding is designed for adding staff; awarding $160,000 to strengthen and build the public health workforce for covid-19 prevention, preparedness, response and recovery. The grant goes through June 2023. And, since this is a temporary position, it will be classified as a contract worker.
The number of covid-19 cases attributed to Chisago County residents were growing faster than the numbers seen last January, at the time of Benson’s report to the Board.
In September 2021 the confirmed cases number surpassed all other months in 2021 and 61 local people have died from Covid-19.
Benson also explained another funding stream the county has tapped to help pay for incentives for vaccines.
The American Recovery Program awarded Chisago County $15,000 for gift cards, advertising and outreach.
With “relatively low” vaccination rates the county is at 57.8 percent of adults with one dose and 54.7 have completed the full dosing. This compares to 72 percent statewide with one dose and 68.4 with a complete series.