Skip to content

COVID cases in Kittson County rising, omicron not confirmed yet Various vaccination opportunities available


Content Providers(s): CDC/ Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAMS Photo Credit: Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAMS

Kittson County Public Health Director Jeanna Kujava said that COVID cases in the county have been climbing lately. Speaking on December 10, Kujava said cases per week the last two weeks had surpassed 30 per week.

“I would say the last time we had 30 cases in our county in a week period was the end of September,” Kujava said.

Kujava discussed not only the current Kittson County COVID case levels, but also the omicron variant, child vaccinations, booster shots, overall county vaccination rate, and where people can go to get the various vaccines.

Asked further about the rising case rate numbers from a public health perspective, Kujava called it concerning. She felt area health officials have more understanding of where the transmission is coming from when cases have been hovering around the 15-per-week mark, at which point the healthcare field can attribute it to a family or small gathering. This is different.

“As we’ve seen the transmission rate be more highly transmissible and larger gatherings or people doing more traveling like the Thanksgiving holiday, I believe that that has really contributed to what we’re seeing now,” Kujava said. “And it is concerning in that we can’t really pinpoint where it’s coming from, so we can’t really isolate it as well as we have been able to in the past.”

Health officials are also seeing more people testing positive who are asymptomatic. In the past, public health could detect COVID a little quicker, due to people having some of the more familiar COVID symptoms, such as loss of taste and smell, increased temperature.

“It seems like lately those classic symptoms aren’t what we’re seeing,” Kujava said. “We’re seeing more things that look like influenza or look like gastrointestinal illness.”

The first confirmed omicron variant case in Minnesota was reported on December 2 and the state’s second omicron variant case was discovered on December 11, according to an article titled, “Minnesota health officials confirm state’s second omicron case,” by Andrew Krueger. As of December 10, Kujava reported that Kittson County had not reported a confirmed omicron variant case yet.

“Primarily what we’re seeing transmission of is the delta variant (in Kittson County and across the state),” Kujava said.

Despite omicron not being confirmed yet in Kittson County, Kujava does anticipate this variant being discovered in the county at some point. What she is seeing and hearing so far is that this variant isn’t causing any “significant” symptoms of more alarm.

“There’s not increased death. There’s not… a population that’s being affected more strongly that we would want to isolate any differently than what we’re doing with the delta variant,” Kujava said. “I think that our focus needs to continue to be on the delta variant at this point until we hear something different about the omicron variant.”

To slow down the delta variant’s transmissibility, public health is continuing to promote vaccinations and boosters. Pfizer approved a child vaccination for ages 5 to 11. Kittson Healthcare is providing opportunities for this age group to get vaccinated at the clinic in Hallock, and also an opportunity at the Kittson Healthcare Clinic in Karlstad on Wednesday, December 22 from 3 pm to 5 pm.

“We want to make sure that we’re good stewards of the resource. And so that’s why we’re being strategic in the date and time that we’re offering it,” Kujava said, “so that we know that we can use all of that vaccine for the appropriate age group and it’s safely given to the group that we’re intending it to be for.”

Kittson Healthcare is also offering the Pfizer adult vaccine for anyone 18 and over at both the Hallock and Karlstad clinics.

“We try and do that on a separate day from when we’re doing the pediatric clients, just again to assure that it’s the best experience for everybody involved,” Kujava said. “It is again a different formulation (compared to the child vaccination), and so we want to be mindful of using that vaccine for those that want it and not wasting any doses.”

Public health clinics in Kittson continue to offer the Moderna vaccine. Kujava said she would hosting some of these clinics on Fridays. If anyone is interested in starting the Moderna vaccine series or getting their booster dose, Kujava said she would be happy to set the appointment, adding how dates are available.

Kujava said to call one’s local clinic, either Hallock or Karlstad, and just ask whether it has the vaccine for them or their children under age 12. It will provide individuals with appointments it has available.

People can call hospital registration at 218-843-3612 to schedule appointments for the public health clinics occurring around the county. Depending on what one is looking for, hospital registration will guide him or her to one of the public health clinics. In Karlstad, on December 15, it is offering the Moderna vaccine, and, as mentioned earlier, on December 22, it is offering the pediatric Pfizer vaccine (ages 5 to 11).

In January, public health clinics will also take place at the Kittson Healthcare Hallock facility for anyone who may have been missed who wants a booster for Moderna.

“If those start to fill up, I will add additional dates,” Kujava said, “or we may consider doing another mass vaccination clinic if I can’t keep up with the demand.”

As for another vaccine opportunity, Thrifty White Drug in Karlstad is offering the Moderna vaccine and the seasonal flu vaccine.

Kujava reminded people to still take COVID-related precautions. She emphasized how testing remains important. She added how if one has symptoms or if they’ve been exposed to consider getting tested.

“It’s important… if you’re positive that you do isolate yourself,” Kujava said. “We can kind of get a better handle on where the transmission is occurring, especially around the holidays when we’re bringing people from out of town closer to home or we’re going away. We would like to be not spreading additional virus if we can help it.”

To see the complete story, read the December 16 issue of the North Star News in print or online.

Leave a Comment