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MDH sends letter to Cook County about ‘concerning level’ of COVID-19 spread

As the positivity rate for COVID-19 testing continues to climb locally, healthcare and government officials in Cook County received a letter from the state’s health commissioner this week that did not mince words.

“Having a positivity rate above 5 percent means the spread of the virus in your county has reached a concerning level,” wrote Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcom. “Higher rates of virus transmission in the community increase the risk for all members of your community, including residents and staff in long-term care facilities.”

Malcom’s letter, dated Nov. 9, is specifically addressed to Cook County elected officials. The letter was addressed by county staff and elected officials during a meeting of the Cook County Board of Commissioners Nov. 10. Cook County Public Health Supervisor Grace Grinager said the case count in Cook County has more than doubled in recent weeks, increasing from 17 to 36 in that time frame. Grinager said the county’s current positivity rate for testing is more than 11 percent.

Malcom said this rate reflects the number of COVID-19 tests that were positive over the total number of tests performed in Cook County during the most recent 14-day period. As cases continue to rise, the residents and staff in these long-term care facilities are at serious risk even as they take aggressive action to limit infections, Malcom wrote.

To read a full copy of Malcom’s letter, Cook County Letter from State.

WTIP’s Joe Friedrichs spoke with Cook County Administrator James Joerke about the MDH notification and how the new coronavirus continues to impact local government.