Itasca County Public Health is aware of a cluster of COVID-19 cases at Comstock Court, an independent, senior apartment complex in Deer River that’s owned by Essentia Health.

The county is working closely with Essentia to contain the spread of this virus, as well as to identify and inform anyone who may have been exposed or otherwise impacted.

Essentia, with guidance from its infectious disease experts, has created a process for thorough daily symptom surveillance and screening of each resident. Also, because of increased restrictions on building access, Essentia is developing support systems to ensure residents have access to medication pick-up needs, groceries and other items.

Through this collaboration, contact tracing conducted by Itasca County Public Health is underway. Accordingly, it’s important to note:

• If you receive a call from your local health department, please answer. We are providing guidance on COVID-19 spread and the monitoring of symptoms.

• If you have been a close personal contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, please quarantine for 14 days and/or seek guidance on testing from your health care system.

• Please understand that masking, social distancing, hand hygiene, staying home when you’re stick and avoiding group gatherings all help to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in our communities.

Also Minnesota Departments of Public Safety, Health and Labor and Industry have alerted the hospitality industry that establishments can expect increased compliance checks at bars and restaurants.

Teams from these departments will visit establishments each weekend, checking that they and their patrons are following federal and state guidelines for face coverings, adherence to social distancing, tables at least six feet apart, serving to no more than 50 percent capacity, reservation protocols, party size limits of four per table (or six if immediate family members), etc. Violations could lead to fines, loss of an establishment’s liquor license or temporary closure.

In a joint statement, the departments wrote, “Most establishments are following federal and state guidelines, but it makes it difficult for them to compete or to explain to their customers when other establishments are not in compliance. We owe it to the establishments that are following the guidelines to address these issues of noncompliance.”

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