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County ailing from slow COVID vaccine rollout impacting state

The Minnesota Department of Health reported 3,747 cumulative COVID-19 cases in Mower County, including 74 “probable cases,” as of Tuesday morning.

During Tuesday morning’s Mower County Board of Commissioners meeting, Crystal Peterson, head of Health and Human Services, said Mower is experiencing the same amount of slow vaccine rollout as the state and nation, noting that to date the county has administered 400 doses of the Moderna vaccine. That is far less than what could be reached.

“That is something that continues to be a sore spot for us,” Peterson said. “We’re ready to do more than 400 a day, but we’re lacking the allotment to do that many doses.”

State regulations on vaccine dispersal continues to make planning for county entities difficult. Peterson said county officials will know Friday what they are getting for doses, leaving just Monday to plan for how those will be dispersed on Tuesday.

“Why does it take so long?” County Administrator Trish Harren asked only for Peterson to answer, “That’s a good question.”

Minnesota has lagged behind some states in getting the vaccines in arms, with a new expectation handed down by the State that vaccines are administered just 72 hours after receiving the vaccine.

In the meantime, HHS will continue to administer the 100 doses they receive at a time with the hope of ramping that up in the near future should vaccine needs be met.

“We’re preparing for a mass clinic in the hope that more than 100 vaccines can be given in a week” Peterson said, indicating one possible site may be Austin’s National Guard Armory.

Community Health Division Manager Pam Kellogg told the Herald that Mower County Public Health has created a waitlist for Mower County residents 65 years and older. To sign-up for the waitlist, visit the Mower County website at www.co.mower.mn.us.

Kellogg noted that vaccines remain very limited and are not guaranteed.

In the meantime, Peterson did offer some hope, indicating that cases in the county have been dropping in recent days.

“It’s been under 20 most days the last couple weeks,” she said, indicating a noticeable drop in quarantines as well.

According to Kellogg, about 105 cases are still active in Mower County.

The MDH reports that 29 individuals have died from COVID-19 in Mower County since the pandemic began.

Neighboring counties on Tuesday reported the following cumulative total cases: Dodge (1,401, 4 death), Fillmore (1,283, 8 deaths), Freeborn (2,549, 23 deaths), Olmsted (10,851, 75 deaths) and Steele (2,796, 10 deaths).

Statewide, the MDH reported 456,490 cumulative cases as of Tuesday morning. Of those, an estimated 15,894 are still active.

To date, 6,399,553 tests have been conducted in Minnesota.

As of Tuesday, 24,014 cumulative cases have resulted in hospitalization in Minnesota, including 4,995 in intensive care.

The MDH also reported a death toll of 6,106 on Tuesday. Of those, 3,877 were residents of long-term care or assisted living facilities.