Olmsted county COVID numbers flatline as healthcare workers manage new sub-variants

COVID cases have flatlined in Olmsted County, but that number could be higher than what's reported.
Published: Jul. 14, 2022 at 6:22 PM CDT
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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) – COVID cases around the world are on the rise. Wednesday, The World Health Organization said more than 5.7 million new COVID cases were reported across the world last week.

Here in Olmsted County, COVID case numbers are staying at a pretty steady place within the past months, but medical experts believe that number to be much higher than what’s been reported to the state.

“Those case numbers may be underreported due to all the home testing that is going on,” Olmsted County disease prevention & control nurse manager Leah Espinda-Brandt said.

Olmsted County is still the second highest vaccinated county in the state with nearly 83 percent of its population having one dose of the vaccine.

“We offer some of the COVID vaccines still during a regular vaccine clinic here and those again are all by appointment,” Espinda-Brandt said.

However as cases increase around the nation, local infectious disease specialists predict our area will follow suit.

“Even if people are vaccinated or have had prior infection or both, you can still pick up this infection, Mayo Clinic infectious diseases professor of medicine Abinash Virk, MD said.

The Omicron variant has nearly been completely edged out with the arrival of the B.A. 5 and B.A. 5 sub-variants that make up 75 percent of new cases in the U.S.

“We will more than likely see fluctuation in case counts,” Espinda-Brandt said.

“People need to be aware that there’s cases around and that yes, you can pick up COVID,” Dr. Virk said.

At this time last year, the Delta variant surged throughout the country, and now one year later with the presence of new, more transmission and severe variants, medical experts are closely monitoring.

“That went all the way through September and we had a lot of cases. That’s the worry of these sub-variants,” Dr. Virk said.

Although the sequencing for variants in the county hasn’t been done yet, infectious disease experts believe they are here now.

“Other messages we need to get out based on how transmissible they are, any changes in the procedure that we’re doing. That would be our role,” Espinda-Brandt said.

“How is the winter going to be? We don’t know. Will there be a new variant? Likely, there’s going to be a new variant at that point. Hopefully at that point we’ll have maybe a new type of vaccine also available by then,” Dr. Virk said.

Thursday, Olmsted County Public Health, Mayo Clinic and Rochester Public Schools are teaming up for a mobile immunization clinic where people of all ages, including children 6 months and older, can get all types of vaccines including COVID shots. That’s from 3-7 at night at Homestead Park.

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