Cook County PHHS

Understanding the changing COVID-19 reports in Cook County

The case count for COVID-19 continues to climb in Cook County, with multiple new cases reported in recent days.

And while new reports of COVID-19 are coming in, the case count has fluctuated from higher to lower and back up again in Cook County due to discrepancies with where the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) places or confirms positive COVID-19 tests for any given county. For example, on Oct. 14 Cook County public health officials learned that MDH reassigned two Cook County COVID-19 cases to the individuals’ primary county of residence. Changes such as these occur when an individual such as a student or seasonal worker provides two addresses, one temporary and one permanent, and MDH reviewers determine that the case should be assigned to the individuals’ primary/permanent residence.

During an Oct. 19 interview on WTIP, Cook County Public Health Grace Grinager shared the reasons for why, on occasion, the case counts can vary between the local COVID hub site and the MDH database.

Grinager also discusses why public health officials in Cook County only report a limited amount of information with each positive COVID-19 test that registers locally. Citing health and privacy laws, Grinager also reinforces the fact that new coronavirus can spread in instances before a positive test is confirmed or from an asymptomatic individual. Therefore, Grinager told WTIP’s Joe Friedrichs, attempting to pinpoint specific locations for people to avoid due to possible exposure is extremely complex. The best way for people to stay safe from the virus, Grinager said, is to continue practicing safety recommendations from state and local officials, including social distancing and wearing a mask.

Listen below to the entire conversation between Grinager and Friedrichs from Oct. 19 as it appeared live on WTIP.