COVID SURGE – While we dodged this bullet last spring, the surge of COVID 19 infections is finally upon us in Steele County and Southern Minnesota. We have had over 1,500 cases in Steele County and the number is rising rapidly. As a result, we have had to restrict visitors at the hospital and clinic and are postponing some elective care. Our current positivity rate (the percent of tests that are positive) at our local testing site has fluctuated around 15 to 20% in the past few weeks which indicates a high degree of community spread of the virus. As a comparison, last spring our positivity rate was only 3%. With a higher infection rate, our local hospital has also been caring for an increasing number of COVID infected patients. One of the challenges with a higher percentage of community spread is that we are having an increasing number of staff become infected with or exposed to COVID in the community and at home which has the potential to limit our ability to care for patient in the clinic and hospital settings if they cannot report to work in the clinic or hospital. Despite these challenges we are here for you if you become sick. Please do not delay care if you start to experience a health related problem.
What can you do? The message on this front is consistent– wear your mask when out in public, distance yourself from others at least 3 feet but preferably 6 feet, avoid gatherings with over 10 people especially indoors, wash your hands and get a flu shot.
TESTING – We have moved our Owatonna COVID testing site to the old Southview Clinic location in preparation for the winter weather. We have also changed this to a scheduled model replacing the old drive through model. We are still providing this service 7 days a week and have tested as high as 425 patients in a single day. The process is very smooth and most patients are in and out in less than 5 minutes with results usually within 24-72 hours. We do ask that you call ahead to schedule this service.
HOPE FOR THE FUTURE – Mayo Clinic Health System is in the process of launching select outpatient treatments for high risk patients who have become infected with COVID. Patients in this high risk group will be considered for monoclonal antibody therapy that is delivered by IV. Patients will be triaged through the Mayo COVID care teams and offered treatment on an outpatient basis. In addition, we will be starting to give the IV medication Remdesivir to patients who have been hospitalized with COVID, have stabilized but need to finish the full 5 days of this drug. We also expect additional treatments to be available soon. Mayo has also started to create a plan and timelines for COVID vaccine administration. We will be following the public health guidelines on who should be vaccinated first, but it is expected that this will start in December and then ramp up from there. So as you can see form this update, the end is now at least in sight. Please remain vigilant and safe and we will all get through this pandemic together.
Stay up to date by checking our //mayoclinichealthsystem.org/covid19 web page.
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