ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Otter Tail County makes national news as COVID-19 hotspot

11191804_OTCCOVIDpkg6.Still002.png
According to a recent New York Times report. The Fergus Falls area of Minnesota has one of the highest rise in coronavirus cases in the country.
We are part of The Trust Project.

OTTER TAIL COUNTY, Minn. — Data compiled by The New York Times says Fergus Falls, Minn., has one of the fastest rates of coronavirus spread in the United States.

The Otter Tail County seat placed second highest in the nation on Monday, Nov. 16. The ranking has lowered since then, but the area is still in the top 20 as of Wednesday, Nov. 18.

When comparing the Times report to their data, public health director Jody Lien said it appears to represent Otter Tail County as a whole. Fergus Falls by itself does not meet the 50,000 population threshold.

However, the spread has indeed gotten worse. Lien said small gatherings are mainly to blame, including in more rural areas.

CEO of Lake Region Healthcare Kent Mattson said their numbers do stick out when compared to the rest of Minnesota. He told Forum News Service that 30% of the area's overall positive tests occurred in just the last two weeks.

ADVERTISEMENT

Mattson says 37% of their ICU patients are COVID-19 positive. It is a higher percentage than what they were expecting for this time of year.

COVID-19 case numbers rising quickly in Otter Tail County

"We can only control so much in the hospital, but the community really controls the breadth of the spread, the rate of the spread," Mattson said. "To help us take care of them, we're just asking them to just do their part and slow it down. Let it come at us more evenly."

As of Thursday, Nov. 19, 65 of Mattson's hospital staff members were unable to work. He said if that gets between 75 and 100, they could be in trouble. He is urging the community to continue masking up and avoiding small gatherings.

"Now is really the time to change that behavior," Mattson said.

The Henning Public School District will be shut down all of next week, citing an escalation of COVID-19 in their school community.

Fergus Falls Public Schools, on the other hand, is seeing no major outbreak. Superintendent Jeff Drake said they only experienced 36 cases among the roughly 3,000 students and staff so far.

"We would like to think it's because of the safety measures that we're taking and the protocols that we use," Drake said.

ADVERTISEMENT

Health care leaders are now turning their attention to Thanksgiving, worried those gatherings could make this situation worse.

What to read next
Sound and electrical stimulation may offer hope for people suffering from chronic pain and other conditions. Researchers are exploring the combination with the goal of developing treatments that are safer and more accessible than opioid medication. Viv Williams has details of a new study in this episode of NewsMD's "Health Fusion."
When those first baby teeth appear, it's time to start teaching little ones about good dental health. In this episode of NewsMD's "Health Fusion," Viv Williams consults a pediatric dentist about when kids should have their first dental appointment and she shares tips on brushing.
Long road trips provide ample time for both reflection and rumination — the good and the bad of hours and hours spent behind the wheel. In this Health Fusion column, Viv Williams shares stories of a recent drive to Colorado and how a pit stop at a botanical garden's butterfly house made a faulty air conditioner tolerable and brought meaning to the buzz word "mindfulness."
The new report, released this morning, showed a rise among the state's ninth-graders battling long-term mental and emotional problems