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Sawtooth Mountain Clinic reports a second confirmed COVID-19 employee case

Leadership at Sawtooth Mountain Clinic (SMC) in Grand Marais announced Nov. 5 that a second Sawtooth Mountain Clinic staff member tested positive for Covid-19.

In the announcement, the clinic states that it has conducted a robust case investigation and contact tracing. The results of this investigation show that any interactions with patients or other SMC staff were extremely brief and thus low-risk for COVID-19 transmission.

The clinic is following the guidelines set by the Minnesota Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control, under which there is no need for anyone to quarantine or be tested.

Kate Surbaugh, CEO of Sawtooth Mountain Clinic said, “Given the unfortunate circumstances we are facing daily across this nation during this pandemic of unprecedented proportions, we expected there would be more SMC staff positive cases,” adding. “We have maintained vigilance with physical distancing, sanitization, and proper use of personal protective equipment.”

Surbaugh continued, “By consistently following recommended protocols, SMC is able to continue to provide comprehensive health care services uninterrupted. SMC is currently open for all primary and preventative care visits and well as urgent visits. Telehealth visits with all providers are also available.”

SMC Board President Clare Shirley also commented, “As previously cautioned by the Cook County Department of Health and Human Services, COVID-19 community spread is a significant challenge confronting the health of our community. SMC staff are members of the community and will be vulnerable to community spread of this virus – like all of us.”

Shirley also stressed that safety precautions are in place. Shirley said, “SMC is acutely aware of what we need to do and how to adjust our operations accordingly. We will remain vigilant and ask the community to do the same.”

There has not yet been any high-risk contact at SMC. If that happens, the clinic will immediately contact those exposed and advise them to quarantine per current public health guidance.

As case counts continue to increase across both Cook County and across the state of Minnesota, SMC staff joins other medical and public health officials in reminding all Cook County community members to continue to practice physical distancing, wear a mask, stay home if you are sick and practice hand hygiene.

If you feel ill – even mildly so – please do not hesitate to call Sawtooth Mountain Clinic nurses at 218-387-2330.

In an interview with WTIP’s Joe Friedrichs before this latest announcement, Clinic CEO Surbaugh gave the following reminder, “I know that we’re all tired of talking about it–but the virus isn’t tired. So we need to make sure we do keep it front and center and that we rely on each other for support. So again, if folks have questions, we’re more than happy to answer them.”