Pictured is PHN Brooke Hawkenson receiving the vaccine from RN Rob LaPorte in December 2020, while PHN Jeanne Freier and PHN Theresa Miller stand in the background. (Photo courtesy of Goodhue County Health and Human Services)

With the end of the school year and summer events/activities in mind, Minnesotans are waiting for life to return to “normal.”

In hopes to achieve a sense of normalcy, Gov. Tim Walz announced last week that he’ll lift nearly all the state’s COVID-19 restrictions just before Memorial Day weekend and drop the statewide mask requirement once 70% of residents 16 and older get their first dose of vaccine or July 1, whichever is later.

Goodhue County Health & Human Services officials indicate there are plenty of places and ways to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

GCHHS Child and Family Collaborative Coordinator/Assistant PIO Maggie Cichosz urges residents not to wait to vaccinate and states that now is the time to do so as a way to move on from the pandemic.”

Cichosz says in Goodhue County, over 61% of the population has had at least one dose of vaccine and 91% of those 65+ also do. Despite these statistics, Cichosz says there is still a lot of work to be done.

Hoping that more residents will get vaccinated and with the news of the Pfizer vaccine likely being approved this week for those 12+, Cichosz feels the outlook for the next few weeks/months is positive.

“We just need people to get in and get vaccinated,” added Cichosz.

Minnesota Department of Health COVID-19 vaccine data shows the counties that surround Goodhue County share similar statistics. In Rice County, 60% of the population received one dose, while 56% of Steele, 57% of Dodge, 66% of Wabasha and 64% of Dakota counties’ residents also received one dose.

Cichosz, part of the public information team/COVID response, plays a vital role in the county’s online presence, while colleague Jessica Seide, GCHHS Community Health Specialist, leads the public information team. Cichosz says many in their agency have had a change in their responsibilities after the pandemic began. Building off of already existent connections, from the agency’s perspective Cichosz finds it is a community-wide effort to get vaccinated and build more outreach/relationships working closely with Mayo Health Clinic, Prairie Island Indian Community and smaller communities to see what their needs are and to find ways to ensure people are to get vaccinated if needed.

Current updates

Cichosz indicates Goodhue County recently saw a small increase in COVID-19 cases, especially in its youth. Those numbers were rather stable, unlike the surge of cases last November. Kenyon currently has 5% of COVID-19 cases in the area.

According to Goodhue County’s Weekly COVID-19 Update posted on May 6: There have been 102 new positive cases of COVID-19 and no additional deaths in Goodhue County since the last email update on April 29, 2021. An additional 509 people in Goodhue County have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and 1,202 more people have now completed the vaccine series. (Data reported as of May 4, 2021.) 70,057 COVID-19 tests have been completed in Goodhue County and 5.8% of tests have been positive.

Goodhue County states that this data is the total number of COVID-19 tests completed in Goodhue County residents, and the percentage of those tests that come back positive. Some have been tested more than once. Individual cases (people who test positive for COVID-19) are only counted once, regardless of how many times they test positive. This data represents the positivity rate for the entire course of the pandemic.

The Kenyon-Wanamingo School District most recent COVID-19 update, as of April 30, reveals two staff members currently quarantined, 63 students currently quarantined (8.9% of the district population) and seven current positive cases in the district. Since September 2020, 36 positive cases (students and staff combined) have been noted in the district.

Over the last several weeks, K-W Superintendent Bryan Boysen has stressed the importance following screening guidelines in order for the district to maintain its current in-person learning model as the school year comes to an end.

Reach reporter Michelle Vlasak at 507-333-3128 or follow her on Twitter @apgmichelle. ©Copyright 2021 APG Media of Southern Minnesota. All rights reserved.

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