The United States and upper Midwest have entered a new phase in the COVID-19 pandemic. Cases are rising faster than ever before and hospitals are getting close to capacity.  Our Isanti County 14-day case rate per 10,000 people is up to 115.97 (10/25-11/7), which has led many schools to transition to distance learning in the coming weeks. 

It is clear we need to do more to control the spread of COVID-19. Public health, healthcare, schools, cities and townships, Isanti County, law enforcement, and businesses in Isanti County are joining together to ask for all people in Isanti County to stay home as much as possible, not to gather with people outside your household, wear a mask when in public, and get tested if you have symptoms of COVID-19 or have been exposed to someone with COVID-19.

Testing is a key step to controlling the spread of COVID-19. All Minnesotans can now get a no-cost saliva test at home. Visit https://learn.vaulthealth.com/state-of-minnesota/ to get a COVID-19 saliva test. This webpage shows the in-person COVID-19 testing locations https://mn.gov/covid19/for-minnesotans/if-sick/testing-locations/index.jsp. 

Cambridge Medical Center President, Kelly Spratt, said “Our hospitals are filling up quickly, and staff are becoming ill through community spread. We are at a critical point to try and regain control of the spread of COVID-19. Our incredible health care providers are doing heroic things every day to provide care under exceptional circumstances, but they cannot do it alone. We need the public to do their part as everyday heroes by making choices that will slow the spread of the virus. Coming together to solve big problems is what we do when we are at our best.”

Braham Public Schools Superintendent, Ken Gagner, said, “Our number one goal is to have students receiving in person instruction so anything the community can do to assist in meeting our objectives is appreciated. We encourage everyone to please do their part!”

Art and Science Academy Executive Director, Kevin Fitton, added “We desperately need support from the community to bring those rates down. Please make sure to keep students home if there are any symptoms and to get tested as soon as possible if there is a suspected case. Being able to contain those outbreaks will help to bring that rate down.”

Isanti County Sheriff Chris Caulk, said, “Please remember to be empathetic to each other, we are all in this pandemic together and will get through it together.”  

Now that we are in the holiday season, we know how much families want to gather together. But we also know these informal family gatherings significantly contribute to COVID-19 spread and expose vulnerable people to the virus. Please only gather with those in your household. Utilize video and phone calls to connect with other family members. 

Together we can get through this dark phase of the pandemic. But until a safe and effective vaccine is available, we need work together to limit the spread of COVID-19. We must decrease our 14-day case rate to keep our hospitals available to provide care to those who need it, keep our kids in school, and keep our businesses open. We need all your help. 

Editor’s note: This column was submitted by Isanti County Public Health on behalf of themselves, along with Art and Science Academy, Braham Area Chamber of Commerce, Braham Public Schools, Cambridge-Isanti School District, Cambridge Medical Center, City of Braham, City of Cambridge, Isanti County, Isanti County Sheriff’s Office, North 65 Chamber of Commerce, and Rum River Special Education Cooperative.

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