Nov. 23 Covid update

On Wednesday, November 11, Governor Tim Walz announced Minnesota’s plan for upcoming weeks to combat COVID-19. They called this plan “Dial Back Minnesota” and the plan details a pause on activities such as indoor and outdoor dining, fitness centers, wedding receptions, other parties, indoor entertainment venues, sports programs, public pools, and recreation centers, and social gatherings that involve more than a single household. Citizens will still be able to have takeout and delivery for their food, grocery, and retail shop, worship and have other religious services (weddings and funerals), go to beauty salons, outdoor recreation, and go to schools and other childcare providers. This pause went into effect on Friday, November 20 at 11:59 p.m. and will run until December 18, 2020. Governor Walz empathized with the public as he acknowledged that he knows that it is hard to go without seeing family and friends, but everyone should stay as safe as possible and wear masks, social distance, and only gather with people from their household until there is a vaccine to be distributed to the public.  

Monday, November 16 brought more promising news on the development of a vaccine for COVID-19. Moderna, a biotechnological company based in Massachusetts, announced that they have completed Phase 3 trials, and have found that their vaccine has up to 94.5% efficacy. This news came shortly after Pfizer and BioNTech announced that they had completed Phase 3 trials for their vaccine candidate. Both of these vaccines need to have further approval and then will likely only be available to frontline workers and high-risk people at first before becoming available to the general public. 

Starting on November 30, grades K-12 will start full-time distance learning in ISD 252. This decision came from the COVID advisory committee as a result of rising case numbers in Goodhue County. Amongst the Cannon Falls student body alone, one student tested positive for COVID-19, 7 close contact students quarantined, and 1 close contact staff member quarantined. 1 student who is a full-time distance learner also tested positive this week. 3 staff members (1 from the elementary school and 2 from the high school) tested positive this week as well. 6 elementary students and 10 high school students stayed home this past week because they had symptoms of COVID. 13 students stayed home due to having close contact with a member of their household testing positive. The committee was also discussing how they would come back if it is safe to do so come on January 11, 2021. It is likely that they would use a hybrid learning model as a bridge from distance learning to all-in learning. This means it is likely that by January 11, they will likely only consider continuing with distance learning or switching to a hybrid learning model. The COVID advisory committee’s next meeting is on December 4, and they will continue to monitor data even though they cannot change the learning model until January.

In Goodhue County, as of November 20, there were currently 553 active cases of COVID-19 out of a total of 1618 confirmed positive tests. There have also been 5 probable cases. Probable cases are a result of antibody tests, which means that whoever was tested likely had COVID in the past. There are currently 23 people in the hospital due to COVID and there have been 25 total deaths.

With the “Dial Back Minnesota” pause of activities, cases are likely to start going down in a few weeks. However, cases will most likely keep rising until that point due to the possible 14-day period in which someone may have the virus and not show symptoms. On November 21 alone, there were 6,934 newly reported positive COVID-19 cases plus an additional 285 probable cases. There were 40 newly reported deaths from COVID on November 21 as well. Since the start of COVID, Minnesota has had a total of 265,497 positive cases and 4,660 probable cases. 

According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control), from November 15 to 22 there have been 1,181,710 new positive cases of COVID-19 in the United States of America. There have been 1,476 newly reported deaths out of a total of 255,076. Since January 21, 2020, the CDC has reported a total of 12,028,081 confirmed cases.