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DOUGLAS COUNTY – All five counties in Horizon Public Health’s service area, including Douglas County, are now considered to have low transmission rates of COVID-19.

“Horizon Public Health has noted a consistent and significant downward trend in the number of active cases of COVID-19 for the past three weeks across the Horizon communities,” said Administrator Ann Stehn in a news release issued Friday, March 4.

“We have also noted this same downward trend in the number of hospital admissions from January to February, as well as improved hospital capacity to get patients admitted locally or transferred to an appropriate level of care – a situation that looked more bleak even one month ago ,” Stehn said.

Ann Stehn

These trends are consistent with what health leaders are seeing across the state and nation.

“Recommendations have been changing throughout the pandemic as more is learned and as we acquire better treatment, higher vaccination rates and population immunity from COVID-19,” Stehn noted.

In the five-day period from Feb. 28 through March 4, only five new cases of COVID-19 were added, according to data from the Minnesota Department of Health. As of March 4, the county’s accumulated cases since the pandemic began stood at 10,779 with 115 deaths related to COVID-19.

On Feb. 25, the Centers for Disease Control unveiled a new tool to help communities and individuals understand the current impact of COVID-19 on their community and make decisions about what personal actions to take.

A national map with updated risk levels can be found on the CDC website at:
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/your-health/covid-by-county.html.

Stehn noted that each county’s risk level is calculated relying less on individual case counts, but more on severe disease impacting hospitals and health care capacity.

The CDC has provided updated recommendations for prevention steps for the three levels of community transmission as of March 4:

  • Low. Stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccines and get tested if you have symptoms. Douglas County, along with Grant, Pope, Stevens and Traverse, fall into this risk level.
  • Medium. If you are at high risk for severe illness, talk to your healthcare provider about whether you need to wear a mask and take other precautions. Also, stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccines and get tested if you have symptoms.
  • High. Wear a mask while indoors in public. Also, stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccines and get tested if you have symptoms. Additional precautions may be needed for people at high risk for severe illness.

The CDC has also published a list of conditions that have been demonstrated to be correlated with an increased risk for a severe COVID-19 outcome:
Individuals at higher risk for severe outcomes include, but are not limited to cancer, cerebrovascular disease, chronic kidney disease, chronic Lung diseases (interstitial lung disease, pulmonary embolism, pulmonary hypertension, bronchiectasis and COPD), chronic liver diseases (cirrhosis, non- alcoholic fatty liver disease, alcoholic liver disease and autoimmune hepatitis), cystic fibrosis, diabetes mellitus (Type 1 and 2), disabilities (including but not limited to: ADHD, cerebral palsy, congenital malformations/birth defects, limitations with self-care or activities of daily living, intellectual and developmental disabilities, learning disabilities, spinal cord injuries), heart conditions (such as heart failure, coronary artery disease or cardiomyopathies), HIV, mental health disorders (mood disorders including depression and schizophrenia spectrum), neurologic conditions limited to dementia, obesity, primary immunodeficiencies, pregnancy and recent pregnancy, physical inactivity, sm oking (current and former), solid organ or hematopoietic cell transplantation, tuberculosis, and use of corticosteroid or other immunosuppressive medications.

Horizon Public Health offered this advice: “With these changes in guidance for the general public, it is important to acknowledge that there are many people who are at higher risk for severe illness with challenging decisions to face navigating a world with COVID-19 in it . If you are at high risk for severe disease, or if you do not know if you are considered high risk, we recommend you talk to your healthcare provider about whether to wear a mask and what other precautions you should take.”

Horizon Public Health continues to update the COVID-19 Statistics Dashboard weekly on Tuesdays and Thursdays. This information can be found at www.horizonpublichealth.org.

If you have additional questions or need assistance, you can call the Horizon Public Health COVID-19 helpline at 800-450-4177 option 3, or visit the website at

www.horizonpublichealth.org.

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