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Health officials in Emmons County are urging North Dakotans to take precautions as cases spike

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Emmons County is the top county for COVID-19 cases per 10,000 people with 237.

Now, health officials are asking for more from the community.

“Right now, it’s crucial that people try to stop this or slow it down because our health care system is overwhelmed,” said Lisa Edholm-Moch, RN administrator at Emmons County Public Health.

Edholm-Moch has been a public health nurse for 26 years.

She says normally she gives immunizations and takes care of the elderly. But lately, she’s been helping with contact tracing.

A few days ago, she saw a post on Facebook that surprised her.

‘Our kids are quarantined all the time from school and we can’t go anywhere, we can’t do anything.’ Her daughter was quarantined at home that week and she was frustrated. ‘How is this all going to end? We have to start speaking up and saying ‘no’ to what everyone else is telling us to do,’” said Edholm-Moch.

So, she did.

“It is about people’s health and I tried not to be political and I tried not to say, ‘New normal,’ ‘social distancing.’ I only said, ‘Masks’ once. But I just tried to say this is what’s really happening. This is what viruses can be and we don’t know much about it,” said Edholm-Moch.

Health officials say the spike in cases in the county is from large gatherings and nursing homes.

“Don’t go to a crowded bar or a big wedding. You’re just asking for something when you do that. It’s so hard. If you bled from your eyeballs from this virus, people might be taking it more seriously, but the fact that some people don’t get that sick and some people do, it makes it really hard for people to take it more seriously,” said Edholm-Moch.

“Think maybe they’re invincible and, ‘It’s not going to get to me.’ But, there are people that are asymptomatic that are carriers. So I just tell everybody, ‘Try and mitigate your risk, minimize your exposure if possible if you’re out in the community,” said Beverly Voller, executive officer/RN at Emmons County Public Health.

There are currently 18 active cases at the Strasburg Care Center, according to the administrator.

As hospital beds fill up with COVID and non-COVID patients, Edholm-Moch wants people to ask themselves, “If I knew that I had COVID right now, how would that affect my behavior? What would I do differently?”

“Seeing that helicopter leave our little, tiny hospital three times this month was, ugh, heart-wrenching for me because you know those people are going far away. Their families can’t be with them and it’s a sign that things are not good in this area,” said Edholm-Moch.

Voller says she expects to see a drop in cases in the next two weeks. Right now, there are 78 active cases. And, some businesses in the area are now asking customers to wear masks.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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