County Board hears COVID updates during Tuesday meetings

The Beltrami County Board of Commissioners heard a COVID update during their meetings Tuesday.

As of that afternoon, there were more than 100 active COVID cases, according to Beltrami County Public Health Director Megan Heuer.

Heuer reported that younger age groups, such as those younger than 12, are seeing higher numbers of cases than they have in the past.

COVID breakthrough cases are expected, but the vaccines still prevent severe disease, hospitalizations, and decrease the risk of deaths. Heuer noted that many of the local breakthrough cases were in patients with other comorbidities increasing their chances of infection.

A few other COVID-related topics were discussed, such as a brief debate on the efficacy of masks, quarantine protocols in county workplaces, and the online information efforts led by Beltrami County Emergency Management and Public Health.

Commissioner Jim Lucachick asked Heuer if there have been any scientific studies on masks, stating the topic is of community conversation.

Heuer responded that a study published in a recent JAMA medical journal looked at particles exhaled and inhaled while wearing masks. The study showed that, depending on the mask’s material and quality, between 50 and 70 percent of particles exhaled were stopped by the mask.

Commissioner and County Board Chair Reed Olson said that there have been efforts to sow doubt and spread misinformation on the subject.

Heuer said that the mask is just one layer, alluding to the “Swiss cheese” model of levels of protection to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Beltrami County Emergency Management Chris Muller asked the board if they would like to review the information they distribute on COVID-19. Commissioner Craig Gaasvig indicated he would like to review it before publication, but Commissioner Tim Sumner expressed he didn’t feel the need to micromanage efforts that promote community health.

View the County Board meetings in full here:

Larissa Donovan is the News Director for the stations of Paul Bunyan Broadcasting and has been, almost without interruption, since Election Day 2016. She covers all the beats in north-central Minnesota, such as local government, crime, education, environment and social issues. She studied communications at Bemidji State University. You can follow along with Larissa's live tweets of meetings and events on Twitter!

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