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Higher quality masks coming soon to Douglas County

Horizon Public Health will be overseeing the distribution.

KN95 masks
KN95 masks, like these, will soon be distributed by Horizon Public Health to Douglas County residents. The state is providing these free masks to schools, public health agencies and clinics to help protect against omicron, the current wave of the COVID-19 virus.
Courtesy / Adobe Stock

Of the 2.1 million KN95 masks being provided to Minnesotans during the current COVID-19 wave, Horizon Public Health is expected to receive 5,520 of those masks.

Ann Stehn, Horizon Public Health administrator, said once the masks arrive, they will be distributed to Horizon’s five-county service area, which includes Douglas, Pope, Grant, Stevens and Traverse counties.

“There are now going to be more high quality masks available soon for people looking for extra protection during this omicron surge,” said Stehn. “Horizon is partnering with our local county emergency managers to assist in mask distribution.”

She also noted that the plan for distribution will be slightly different in each community.

High quality masks, including N95 and K95 masks, said Stehn, are recommended to help mitigate the spread of the omicron variant. These types of masks are good at blocking droplets, she said.

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StehnAnn20.jpg
Ann Stehn

If people cannot get these types of masks, they should wear a well-fitting mask made up of at least two layers.

Because the omicron variant has been shown to spread more easily, masks are recommended for both fully vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals in certain settings:

  • Indoor public settings, as well as crowded outdoor settings in areas with substantial or high transmission.
  • If you are immunocompromised.
  • If you live or interact with someone who is immunocompromised, not fully vaccinated or is at increased risk for severe disease.
  • High risk settings that are more likely for COVID-19 to spread.

“Last week, we saw a significant increase in cases again across our service territory,” said Stehn. “We continue to watch the data and do not believe we have turned the corner yet in this current omicron surge. We continue to stress staying home when you are sick, wearing a well-fitting mask and getting tested when appropriate and getting vaccinated and boosted when eligible.”
As of Friday, Jan. 28 the cumulative total of COVID-19 cases in Douglas County stood at 9,904, an increase of 539 cases in one week. The county’s death toll from the disease also increased by two in the last week, to 112. One of the victims was between 65 and 69 years old, and the other one was between 70 and 74.

Since Jan. 3, COVID has claimed seven lives in Douglas County – five of them 64 years old or younger. The youngest victim was between 35 and 39 years old.

If the public has questions, Stehn advised calling Horizon Public Health at 800-450-4177, option 3. To access the COVID-19 data dashboard visit horizonpublichealth.org.

Celeste Edenloff is the special projects editor and a reporter for the Alexandria Echo Press. She has lived in the Alexandria Lakes Area since 1997. She first worked for the Echo Press as a reporter from 1999 to 2011, and returned in 2016 to once again report on the community she calls home.
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