Deb Purfeerst, Rice County Public Health Director gave a COVID-19 update to the Board of Commissioners meeting as a Committee of the Whole today in Faribault.

Purfeerst said even after receiving the vaccine people, "Still need to make sure that they're wearing their face mask, continuing physical distancing, staying home if their sick etcetera.  I just would encourage people to be patient.  We too would like to have seen the receiving of more vaccine supplies at this point. The other thing is each state is rolling out vaccine distribution very differently so you will see in some states they prioritize differently. So it does look different if you're in Florida or Arizona than in Minnesota right now.  I'm hopeful this will speed along so we can expand those groupings."

During her slide presentation Purfeerst went over the numbers for the county pointing out, "Rice County cases, 3.5 percent have required hospitalization and of those hospitalized 19 percent in the ICU." (Intensive Care Unit).

She said the hospitalizations and ICU numbers are less than the state averages.

Of the total deaths to date, "31 percent have been in private residents, 60 percent in long term care, 9 percent in the prison."

Purfeerst told Commissioners Rice County still has a very high test rate ranking second among the state's 87 counties.  "That's influenced with our prison setting doing quite a bit of testing.  Our long term care facilities and then our colleges are doing quite a bit of testing."

The Rice County Public Health Department Director reported the positive case rate is going down but is still above the five percent level which is the recommended level to be below.

Purfeerst says, "At this point we are predicting that we probably have about 15 hundred people yet to go in the Phase 1a Priority 3 before we will be completed in that area.  MDH (Minnesota Department of Health) directives yesterday and the Governor announced the state was to continue to work on Phas 1a but when they were done with that to move on to educators, child care and 65 and older if there are vaccines available."

Commissioner Jeff Docken asked Purfeerst if it's true more vaccines are being developed.  Those being single dose vaccines.

Purfeerst replied, "I would anticipate in the next month or two you will see more vaccines available.  There is the single dose vaccines that will most likely be rolling out in the future and the nice thing about that is those are the type of vaccines that most likely would be provided to a clinic setting.  Single dose vaccine.  I can then provide to my patients coming into the clinic.  Because it will take all of us to vaccinate.  The challenge with the current vaccines is both of them are two doses.  That slows you down too when you have two dose vaccines."

Rice County Public Health has administered all 500 doses of the vaccine they have received.  Purfeerst added, "Northfield Hospital graciously has agreed to give us 300 doses so that will help later this week to give out another 300 doses to those health care providers as well as people in congregate settings.  Northfield Hospital has messaged the same way we have. Right now we don't have supplies for the 65 and older, educators and child care because we're still trying to get supplies to finish up that Phase 1a Priority 3 group."


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