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Contact tracing key to stopping spread of COVID-19 in Hubbard County

Small increase in COVID-19 cases over Labor Day weekend causes Hubbard County to be listed as a "hot spot."


Hubbard County was recently designated as one of six COVID-19 hot spots in the state. According to data from the Minnesota Department of Health(MDH), that means it is one of the six counties with the fastest per capita COVID-19 case growth in three days, as measured by confirmed cases per 100,000 residents.

“We had five cases over three days last weekend, which was an increase, but with 52 confirmed cases in Hubbard County, our numbers remain low,” said Marlee Morrison, community health director for CHI St. Joseph’s Community Health. “Our current 14-day positivity rate, posted Thursday, is 4.31 percent and our seven-day positivity rate is 1.7 percent. Because of our low population, a small spike in numbers over a short period of time will be noted in the data.

“That being said, we are seeing an increase in cases, both in our county and in surrounding counties that impact our residents who are placed in quarantine. This is significant, as it impacts children going back to school. We encourage residents to remain careful, avoiding social gatherings, wearing masks indoors, and follow guidelines at stores, restaurants and other public places.”

Morrison said it is vitally important for residents to answer the phone when contacted by community health or MDH officials. “The caller ID should identify the call as being from the Department of Health or St. Joseph’s,” she said. “A voicemail will also be left identifying the caller as the health department and with a phone number to call back.”

Morrison said the reason contact tracing is so important is that it helps limit the spread of the disease by identifying those most at risk of contracting the virus.


“If you have tested positive, you will receive information on how long you should remain isolated and other needed follow up,” she said. “If you have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, you will need to quarantine at home for 14 days from exposure. You may be tested and we encourage you to do so, especially if you have symptoms. However, you cannot test your way out of quarantine if you know you’ve been exposed. Even if your test is negative, you will remain quarantined for the full 14 days. A COVID-19 test only shows whether you are positive or negative at the exact time the test was taken. Since the illness can develop anytime during the 14 days, the 2 week quarantine is still necessary.”

Morrison said these are not easy things to do, and she understands when people are unhappy with this information.

“However, not following isolation and quarantine guidelines potentially exposes multiple others and will have impacts on healthcare, school openings, churches and other gatherings,” she said. “CHI St. Joseph’s Health Community Health is available to help make sure you have what you need in your home if you are asked to isolate. Working together, we can protect our friends, family, and community.”

Lorie Skarpness has lived in the Park Rapids area since 1997 and has been writing for the Park Rapids Enterprise since 2017. She enjoys writing features about the people and wildlife who call the north woods home.
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