Renville County seeing some vaccine hesitancy as COVID-19 numbers rise

Tom Cherveny, West Central Tribune, Willmar, Minn.
·2 min read

Apr. 21—OLIVIA — Just as COVID-19 cases are on the rise, Renville County is confronting a hesitancy toward vaccination.

Jill Bruns, public health director, told the Renville County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday that her office is working to overcome what she called a "hesitancy wall" that is showing itself in the county. Public health and the county emergency services offices recently mailed postcards to all addresses in the county encouraging people to get vaccinated.

Bruns said the office is also opening a Spanish language phone line to reach out to those who may face a language barrier in scheduling appointments for vaccinations.

Like much of the state, Renville County is experiencing a fourth wave or increase in COVID-19 cases in the county, she told the commissioners. The county saw 91 new cases in the last two weeks alone, bringing its total since the pandemic began to 1,728.

The public health director said the recent increase would be greater, possibly like the November-to-December surge, were it not for the availability of the COVID-19 vaccines. Currently 38.8 percent of the county's population has been inoculated. More than 80 percent of persons ages 65 and older in the county have been vaccinated. "It's really helping," said Bruns.

Those getting tested for COVID-19 are doing so because they are getting sick. Bruns said some have been hospitalized and she is receiving reports of people who are "very sick" with the symptoms of COVID-19.

She said the current wave is mainly hitting persons ages 11 to 49.

Some of those becoming ill are infected by a variant of the COVID-19 virus. Bruns said the variant is spread more readily.

However, she said the variant and the original COVID-19 virus are both causing equally severe symptoms in many.

Commissioner Randy Kramer told Bruns that he has been hearing from a number of people who have become very sick and are wondering if they have the variant. Some of those ill have been on oxygen, he said, and are in the younger age groups.