DICKINSON, N.D. — A plea from a regional health official called on Dickinson City commissioners to engage with state officials and urged the commission to address the growing number of cases in the city and county.
The letter, from Sherry Adams of the Southwestern District Health Unit, was delivered Tuesday, Sept. 1, at the Dickinson City Commission meeting in lieu of Adams' physical attendance at the meeting.
The letter outlined SDHU officials' support to move the county up the state's coronavirus alert system from green (low risk) to yellow (moderate risk). Since mid-July, Stark County has continued to see cases of COVID take an huge upward trend — jumping from 12 active cases on July 16 to more than 200 on Sept. 1, Adams said in the letter.
Mayor Scott Decker said the city requires the commission to decide if they intend to have any policies, ordinances or resolutions passed to address the growing coronavirus concerns in Dickinson, which he advised would be best done as a full commission; commissioners John Odermann and Jason Fridrich were absent Tuesday.
"If the governor decides that we are one of those counties that are moved into yellow then I think it would be appropriate to either call a special meeting or if it falls during our next meeting we can have that discussion," Decker said. "There are individuals who would like us to shut the city down again. I receive those calls everyday and I'll tell you this, I'm not in favor of that — we need to operate."
Adams supports the yellow designation.
"(W)e are one of the counties in ND that the Governor may be recommending to go to Yellow. At this point I do support that move," Adams wrote. "We have a ways to go before this pandemic is under control, but if we all do our part we can get through this together and with less loss of life. I urge you to discuss the possibility to go yellow, if we are asked. It is a hard decision but the right one."
The letter which was forwarded to the city addressed some of the concerning issues present in the county and attempted to clarify misconceptions and rumors circulating about the growing numbers in Stark County, which sits second in the state behind Hettinger in most cases per capita, surpassing Grand Forks, Burleigh and Cass counties.
"You might say, it is because we are testing more, and in part that is true, but we have really been testing about the same number each week," Adams clarified for the commissioners. "We are seeing some of the effects of North Dakotans participating in various summer actives without social distancing. We are seeing positives that encompass all ages, entities, and agencies."
Outlining recommendations and clarification, the letter to the city commissioners detailed some concerning trends:
Groups wanting to get together to get positive — so they can just “get it over with”
"There is no evidence that once you have had COVID, you won’t get it again, ironically science is showing that antibodies are waning after a short period of time. We also do not know if COVID can lie dormant and then resurface later like shingles," Adams warned. "We do not know the long-term consequences of having had COVID."
“Masks are pointless”
"Masks protect the person wearing them by decreasing the amount of viral load a person may breathe in, and protect the people around you by slowing the spread of the virus," Adams clarified. "This has been proven scientifically."
“It is an old person disease”
"We are seeing a much higher incidence in that 20-30 year old range with many of that group getting very sick. Children are also starting to increase in positivity in ND and nationwide," Adams said. "Cases of memory loss, severe inflammation of organs, severe lung disease in the young are being reported, and we do not know the long term consequences of health to them."
“How can I be positive and a risk, because I have no symptoms."
"So why get tested? Asymptomatic people are our biggest concern, as they are spreading the disease and not knowing it — potentially to those who get extremely ill from the disease," Adams said. "ND is encouraging all people to get tested, so we know where the positives are and to slow the spread."