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Overall community health a key part of school reopening discussion, local physician says

The difficult conversation continues in Cook County between local school board members, teachers, school administration and parents and students in the community regarding what the 2020-21 school year should look and feel like as the COVID-19 pandemic rolls into mid-August and beyond.

A recent increase in the local case count for the new coronavirus in Cook County, including that of a local teenager, brought a new element to the discussion for many in how they continue to evaluate the upcoming school year.

Indeed, young people across the state of Minnesota are among the rising case counts statewide. According to recent data from the Minnesota Department of Health, since Aug. 1., the total number of confirmed infections in Minnesota has increased 18 percent among youth ages six to 19. In Cook County, all five confirmed local cases to date include someone who is either a teenager or in their 20s or 30s.

WTIP’s Joe Friedrichs spoke with Dr. Kurt Farchmin from Sawtooth Mountain Clinic in Grand Marais about the significance of what’s happening right now in Minnesota with a surge in cases, particularly among young people, and where that fits into the overall plan for an entire school year.

Dr. Farchmin also explains that health officials in Minnesota, including Cook County Public Health Supervisor Grace Grinager, have continually said that the spread of the virus among young people is of course a threat to them, but even more so, it increases the chance for community spread. For example, if a young person in Cook County becomes infected with the new coronavirus it could reach their parent who is perhaps a healthcare worker, and then it potentially reaches the Care Center, or an apartment complex in Grand Marais, as another example.

In the interview that appeared live on WTIP August 12, Friedrichs asks Dr. Farchmin how community members can mindful of the fact that when we talk about the school year we are, of course, focusing on education, but also talking about overall community health.

You can find their entire conversation in the audio posted below.