Lake of the Woods: The Minnesota county COVID-19 has (so far) forgotten
June 12, 2020
e there are no confirmed cases.
John Enger | MPR News 2014
Rick Blodgett has a lot of theories about why nobody in Lake of the Woods County has tested positive yet for the coronavirus. Theory No. 1: Far Northern Minnesotans are just tougher people.
“When I was a kid, we used to sleep with the window open,” he said. “It might be 20 below. We’d just pile the blankets. Are we heartier? I don’t know.”
He wishes that were the reason. It would be something to brag about. But it’s probably not why there aren’t any COVID-19 cases in his county yet. Lots of people have tested positive for the disease in other northern communities — Cook County, the other longtime holdout, just recorded its first COVID-19 case this week — and presumably some of those people once slept with their windows open, too. Besides, there’s no research to suggest that “hearty” makes a difference when it comes to getting a COVID-19 diagnosis.
William Lager | MPR News
Another theory? Maybe people who live in Baudette, Minn., where he runs the local Hardware Hank store, are just much better at taking the recommended coronavirus precautions than the rest of the state — the rest of the country, for that matter.
Maybe they wash their hands more, disinfect more, stay home when they’re sick, social distance on all occasions, wear masks more effectively and more often.
But: Blodgett isn’t wearing a mask these days — and, he said, neither are any of his employees, or the vast majority of his customers. So prevention probably isn’t it, either.
“I think it’s more luck than anything else,” he said.
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Luck might have something to do with it but according to state infectious disease director Kris Ehresmann, the lack of COVID-19 cases in Lake of the Woods County has more to do with geography and population than being lucky.
Places like New York City were hit hard by the highly infectious disease, she said, in part because the people there live tightly packed together, with a high population density.
Lake of the Woods County, on the other hand, is the second least-populated county in the state of Minnesota, just before Traverse County. There are fewer than 4,000 people, spread out over more than 1,000 square miles. It is the opposite of New York City. And at least when it comes to the transmission of a disease like COVID-19, all of that space and distance is an advantage.
Some communities have low numbers of COVID-19 cases, because they’re not doing much — or any — testing for the disease. But according to the state Health Department, Baudette’s LakeWood Health Center, the county’s only COVID-19 testing site, has tested 69 people. All of those people tested negative for the virus. Ehresmann said that even though it’s not a huge testing program, adequate for the county’s population.
It’s still possible that a few people in the county have — or have had — the disease, but without symptoms, and haven’t been tested.
Plenty of water in the county as well. Good fishing - or so I understand.
Seek peace but keep your gun handy.
I'm not a complete idiot, some parts are missing!
“Illegitemus non carborundum est (“Don’t let the bastards grind you down”).”
― Julia Child