Richfield surpasses 5,000 total COVID-19 infections
Just when you think the COVID-19 pandemic might be ending, or at least leveling off, positivity rates begin to soar. Recently, the State of Minnesota experienced the worst seven-day coronavirus infection rate in the nation, and Richfield is not faring any better as positive case numbers surpass 5,000.
With a population of 36,994, the most up-to-date case numbers show that 13.5 percent of all city residents have now been diagnosed with the virus at some point since March 2020. In that same timeframe, 371 residents have been hospitalized, 65 have required a stay in an intensive care unit, and 50 have passed away because of the virus.
“Positivity rates have ebbed and flowed over the past 20 months, but daily positivity rates have not been this high in Richfield since last November and December,” explained Community Health Services Administrator Jennifer Anderson. “For the majority of 2021, it was rare for the city to experience more than 10 new cases a day. Sadly, we are now seeing double or even triple that amount of daily cases in Richfield.”
The rise in cases can be attributed to the Delta variant becoming the primary strain of the virus in Minnesota. Research done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has shown that the Delta variant is more infectious and spreads faster than earlier forms of the virus that causes COVID-19. Additionally, those who have not been vaccinated in combination with our cold season approaching are forcing residents indoors and people’s levels of antibodies against the virus are starting to decline.
Fortunately, Richfield has weathered the pandemic better than many cities and the city’s public health officials attribute that to the city’s high vaccination rate.
As it currently stands, 75 percent of all eligible residents (age 5 and up) have completed their initial vaccination series. That percentage will increase even more when one considers that 5-11-year-olds have only been eligible to receive their vaccination since November 2. The vaccination rate for residents 12 years and older is 82 percent.
“Richfield residents understand that COVID-19 is a serious, possibly life-threatening disease,” said Anderson. “As soon as a new group becomes eligible to receive the vaccine or a booster shot, the majority of them go out and get it, as soon as possible.”
On Friday, November 19, all Minnesotans 18 years old and up became eligible to receive a vaccine booster shot against COVID-19.
“When you are first vaccinated against COVID-19 your body’s antibody level is extremely high,” confirmed University of Minnesota Immunologist and Richfield resident Dr. Marc Jenkins. “Over time, some people’s antibody level against the virus decreases, so they should receive a booster shot. This is especially true for our seniors and those with compromised immune systems.”
Throughout the pandemic, residents have had to acquire a new vocabulary when it comes to discussing the virus. One of the biggest areas of conversation, as of late, is breakthrough cases.
A breakthrough infection is when a person who has been fully vaccinated still contracts the virus.
“The majority of the breakthrough cases for COVID-19 are asymptomatic, but even the patients that do experience symptoms tend to have very mild cases, especially in comparison to those of an unvaccinated person who contracts the virus,” remarked Jenkins. “Some studies have even shown that a vaccinated person is 15 times less likely to end up in the hospital, or die from COVID-19, than their unvaccinated counterparts.”
The surge in positive COVID-19 cases is especially problematic as the holiday season looms, the city’s public health officials warn.
“We all missed out on having our traditional holiday gatherings last year,” stated Anderson. “However, that is what we had to do to keep ourselves and those we care about safe from spreading COVID-19. This year, if everyone is vaccinated, or has recently tested negative for COVID-19, gathering for the holiday can happen with some mitigation measures in place like masking when 6’ apart is difficult, washing your hands frequently and giving everyone some space, if possible.”
To learn more about how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting Richfield and what resources are available to those who are struggling, residents can visit www.richfieldmn.gov/covid-19