As Douglas County commissioners sat in their new, larger location at the now county-owned building on Douglas Street, Ann Stehn with Horizon Public Health shared her concerns about the increased cases of COVID-19.

“Since the middle of October, we have seen an explosion of cases,” Stehn said. “I’m concerned for our community.”

Through at least the end of the year, commissioners moved their meetings to better help with social distancing, although not all were wearing masks.

While talking to the commissioners, Stehn made a plea for everyone in the community to mask up, wash their hands, social distance, limit interactions with others and have smaller gatherings.

“We can’t let our guard down as it (coronavirus) is running rampant in our community right now,” she said. “People need to stay vigilant. We know it’s hard, but it is needed right now.”

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Ann Stehn
Ann Stehn

Besides doing what needs to be done with masking up, hand washing, sanitizing, social distancing and limiting contact, Stehn also made a plea for everyone to “spread a little kindness.”

She said people need to take care of each other, be more kind and be good neighbors.

In a letter Stehn shared dated Nov. 9 that was addressed to Douglas County elected officials, Jan Malcolm, Minnesota Department of Health commissioner, stated that Douglas County currently has a positivity rate of greater than 5%. This means that the spread of the virus in Douglas County has reached a concerning level.

Stehn said the current rate right now in Douglas County is 12%, which is a significant concern.

This rate reflects the number of COVID-19 tests that were positive over the total number of tests performed in Douglas County during the most recent 14-day period prior to a one week lag period to assure data completeness.

Stehn couldn’t stress enough the concerns she has and said Douglas County is right in the middle of the COVID-19 surge that has climbed to alarming levels.

In the letter from Malcolm, she said elected officials can do their part to help reduce community spread by doing the following:

  • Encouraging compliance with masking requirements and gathering restrictions.

  • Increasing communication to/partnerships with businesses, including restaurants/bars, to reinforce the harmful impact of spread

  • Amplifying communication in the community regarding the risk and spread of the virus to everyone in the community and especially to elders.

  • Encouraging those most at risk for severe disease – the elderly and those with health conditions – to stay home as much as possible and encouraging those who interact with them to use prevention measures carefully.

“Reducing community spread is critical for successfully preventing COVID-19 infections and deaths,” Malcolm stated in her letter. “Your leadership and partnership are important in this effort. We share your commitment to ensuring the health and well-being of your community’s residents and we thank you for all that you are doing to help protect Minnesotans.”

Pilgrim Point update

A closing date has been set for Pilgrim Point. Dave Rush, Douglas County Land and Resource Management director, provided an update for the commissioners on the project.

He said there were some minor changes made to the purchase agreement, but that the closing date has been set for Monday, Nov. 30.

The Minnesota Conference of the United Church of Christ currently owns the 46-acre church camp. Back in September, Douglas County commissioners signed a joint purchase agreement with Pilgrim Point Shores LLC, the group that wants to develop the property. Pilgrim Point Shores is owned by Mark and Jill Swanson and three other family members – Jill’s dad, brother and sister. The Swansons live on Lake Ida and own His & Her’s Ceramic Tile Inc.

The plan is to develop a little more than 8 acres of land at Pilgrim Point into a county park with a swimming beach as its main component.

More information will be provided after the closing on Nov. 30.

In other action

Douglas County commissioners approved the following items:

  • Final plat of Bohemian Triangle, a one-lot plat in Lake Mary Township.

  • Preliminary plat of Lakeview Estates, an eight-lot plat in Brandon Township.

  • Preliminary plat of Horsefeather Acres, a two-lot plat in Millerville Township.