North Shore Health and Sawtooth Mountain Clinic have a unique partnership, officials say.
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Another Grand Marais hospital employee tests positive for COVID-19

Another employee at the hospital in Grand Marais tested positive for COVID-19.

North Shore Health (NSH) shared the announcement Wednesday, Nov. 4. This is the second employee at NSH in recent weeks to test positive for COVID-19.

In an update to this story and due to the sharp increase in community spread of COVID-19 in Cook County, visitation to the local hospital in Grand Marais is temporarily suspended until further notice, according to NSH officials.

Essential caregivers with North Shore Living will continue to have access to their residents. Compassionate visits in both the hospital and North Shore Living will be allowed in specific circumstances by prior arrangements only.

If a compassionate visit is being requested, the nursing staff at the hospital or North Shore Living should be contacted. Emergency Department patients will be allowed to have one individual with them during their visit if clinically appropriate.

The employee who most recently tested positive provides direct patient care at the hospital facility. They do not routinely enter the Care Center or interact with residents at the long-term care facility, according to information sent to WTIP Nov. 4.

In the week prior to testing positive for COVID-19, the hospital employee was notified of the fact they were a close contact of someone else who also tested positive for the new coronavirus. That contact happened outside of their role at NSH, according to hospital officials.

During a recent interview on WTIP, North Shore Health Hospital Administrator Kimber Wraalstad said all staff NSH were recently tested as part of a routine COVID-19 protocol for hospital employees. During this round of routine testing the employee tested negative, only to test positive after retesting four days later. According to the hospital administrator, this reinforces the guidance being given by public health officials in Minnesota that a person with a high risk exposure to a COVID-19 positive individual must maintain a 14-day quarantine. A negative test does not remove the need to quarantine, Wraalstad added.

“We have asked our employees to share information about any exposure to others who are COVID-19 positive, exposure to others with COVID-19 like symptoms and any symptoms they might have,” Wraalstad said. “Our employees are sharing information with us so we are able to determine possible risk and allow them to be tested as soon as possible.”

The overall case count among local residents for COVID-19 since the onset of the pandemic is now at, or perhaps over 30. The most recent data on COVID-19 information for Cook County residents will be made public Nov. 5 by the Cook County Public Health Department.

If you have symptoms or feel you might need to be tested, you are encouraged to contact Sawtooth Mountain Clinic at (218) 387-2330.

The audio below is a Nov. 6 interview with WTIP News Director Joe Friedrichs and Wraalstad about the situation and community spread of COVID-19 in Cook County.