Red Lake Nation News - Babaamaajimowinan (Telling of news in different places)

Pennington County – A "hot spot" of COVID-19


“Hot spot” was often used to describe the COVID-19 outbreak in Pennington County during the Pennington County Board meeting Tuesday, June 9.

“We’ve definitely jumped into the hot spot category for the state of Minnesota and our county,” said Emergency Management Director Erik Beitel.

That morning, Beitel reported that it was believed Pennington County had closer to 48 cases of COVID-19 since some results were pending.

Mass testing was conducted at the Digi-Key construction site last week. Kayla Jore, director of Inter-County Nursing Service, said there was a COVID-19 outbreak at that location. She noted they stopped working and quarantined. Of the 103 people tested at the Digi-Key construction site, 30 tested positive for COVID-19. A few tests are still pending. The above cases are listed among Pennington County’s cases as they are residing here while working on the project.

“The situation is stable,” said Jore. “It’s contained.”

Oakland Park Communities also completed mass testing of about 100 residents and employees after an asymptomatic employee tested positive for COVID-19. Jore reported that no one tested positive as part of the mass testing effort.

Pennington County’s case total usually doesn’t match the Minnesota Department of Health’s total for the county. Beitel explained that MDH doesn’t update the numbers until contact tracing has been completed.

As Pennington County’s cases continue to increase, Beitel and Jore remind people to follow the health guidelines of practicing good hygiene, engaging in social distancing, wearing a mask, cleaning and disinfecting surfaces, and seeking medical care if warranted.

“Individual people need to be mindful of what they’re doing in the workplace, out of the workplace, wherever they are,” said Jore. “The recommendations are still the same.”

Beitel anticipated additional cases in the state, and possibly the county, after bars and restaurants are allowed to more fully reopen Wednesday, June 10.

“Wednesday will be an eyeopener, and the next week will be more of an eyeopener,” said Beitel, who also alluded to a possible COVID-19 increase due to the protests related to the death of George Floyd.

Jore warned the public that it doesn’t take much for COVID-19 to spread like wildfire. She said, “It isn’t going away, and we’re still in the pandemic.”

Auditor-Treasurer Ken Olson provided an update on the limited reopening of Pennington County-owned buildings. County departments were allowed to reopen by appointment only if the department leader felt comfortable doing so.

The Department of Motor Vehicles is among the departments that have reopened by appointment only. Olson reported that department is scheduling about two appointments for every half-hour. Staff have booked appointments through July 3. “They didn’t know if they should continue to make appointments [beyond that date],” said Olson, who referred to the unknowns that remain regarding COVID-19.

Driver’s licenses may be renewed online provided the motorist doesn’t need to make any changes to his or her license and isn’t applying for a REAL ID. Motorists should also be aware that the expiration date for expired driver’s licenses has been extended to Aug. 12.

The Justice Center is unlocked, and some specified court cases are being heard. The Pennington County Court Administrator’s Office is open to the public. A glass partition continues to remain in place at that location.


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