A Message from Ben: COVID-19 Update

Message from Ben

October 22, 2020

Dear Friends of CHI St. Joseph’s Health:

Things have shifted dramatically with positive COVID -19 cases in our county over the past month. We have seen a definite spike in cases. Hubbard County had 43 positive cases at the end of August. As of today we have 346, an increase of 303 cases in about 7 weeks. There are 197 new cases so far in October alone. The 14-day case rate per 10,000 people was 2.88 on August 15th and has jumped to 39.31 on October 3rd. Hubbard County’s positivity rate 10/1 – 10/14/20 is 14% compared to the State rate which is 5.8%. There is increased concern when the positivity rate is above 5%. The Minnesota Department of Health has recently named Hubbard County as a “hot spot”. Regional hospitals are very busy and St. Joseph’s has admitted several COVID-19 positive patients in the last couple of weeks.

We know that it can be very challenging to avoid the virus even when we are careful. As the virus continues to spread in our community, it is important to make sure we are doing everything that we can to protect ourselves, our co-workers, family and friends. The outbreaks locally and across the state are being fueled mostly by formal and informal gatherings with family and friends.

Community spread is a health care problem. The biggest threat to being able to care for patients in our hospitals and clinics is keeping our heath care workers well so they are able to take care of patients when needed. There has been little transmission of the disease from patients to health care workers.  The larger threat is our doctors, nurses and other staff contracting the virus in the community. When health care workers have exposure to COVID-19 from family, friends or other community members, just like everyone else, they need to quarantine. That takes them away from providing critical health care services.

This is where the community can have a significant impact.  It has never been more important for everyone to wear a mask in indoor spaces, socially distance and stay home if you feel ill. If you have symptoms, call your primary care provider to see if you should be tested.

There is reason for some optimism as several vaccines are getting closer to being approved. Health care workers and those most vulnerable will likely be the first to be able to receive a vaccine.  However, it will likely be well into 2021 before a vaccine will be available broadly to the public. Many experts are predicting that the next 2-3 months could be the most difficult yet. We are heading into the flu season and cold weather which will bring more people indoors where spread is more likely. In addition, the holidays often bring more people together.  This will bring increased risk for COVID-19 transmission. It is important for everyone to think about how they can minimize their risk to themselves and their family members.

We all know that this is clearly a marathon that we all did not choose to run, but as COVID-19 cases continue to increase, I strongly urge you to keep up the effort to stay at home and avoid gatherings.  I know this will be very difficult, but it is essential to help us limit the spread of the outbreak and protect the most vulnerable. Please stay safe and stay healthy!


Ben Koppelman

President, CHI St. Joseph’s Health

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