Aitkin County Public Health Education

Aitkin County Public Health Education


Check out the New Nutrition Facts Label.
CORRECTION to the list below! Food Shelf at First Lutheran Church is only open on the 2nd & 4th Thursdays from 9:30 am - 4:45 pm. Emergency boxes only are available during normal office hours M-Th 8am - 4pm and Fri. 8am - 4pm
#BeThe1InAitkin #MakeItOkAitkin

The Aitkin County Public Health Educator page will keep you in the know about current activities, provide health education, and information in an emergency

Operating as usual

News Release: Minnesota’s first COVID-19 saliva testing site opening in Duluth this Wednesday The State of Minnesota today announced it will open a pilot saliva testing site on Wednesday at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center (DECC). This testing site will be the first of its kind in Minnesota, offering free saliva tests to any Minnesotan who believes they need to be tested.

Minnesota Department of Health

Many people who are more likely to get very sick from COVID-19 are also more likely to get very sick from flu. We don’t have a COVID-19 vaccine yet, but we do have a flu vaccine! Older adults, pregnant woman, and people with chronic health conditions should make sure they get a flu vaccine. (And if you know someone who is older, pregnant, or has a chronic health condition, you should get vaccinated, too!)


Now more than ever, it’s important to ask how the people around you are doing. Lance Bass invites you to join in. Start the conversation with help from (Supported by CDC Foundation)


Getting a flu vaccine this fall can reduce your risk of getting flu and help save scarce medical resources needed to care for people with COVID-19. It’s important for everyone to do their part to stay healthy this flu season. Prevent the spread of flu and other respiratory illnesses:
• Mask Up: Cover your nose and mouth with a mask when out in public.
• Lather Up: Wash hands frequently with soap and water.
• Sleeve Up: Roll up your sleeve to get a flu shot.

The more people vaccinated against flu, the more people will be protected from flu. Learn more:

Get Tested PSA (Eng)

Peggy Flanagan, Lieutenant Governor, State of Minnesota, Covid Testing

Testing for COVID-19

Minnesota’s first COVID-19 saliva testing site opening in Duluth this Wednesday
New site will offer free saliva testing to anyone who needs it
The State of Minnesota today announced it will open a pilot saliva testing site on Wednesday at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center (DECC). This testing site will be the first of its kind in Minnesota, offering free saliva tests to any Minnesotan who believes they need to be tested.
“Our battle against COVID-19 is far from over,” said Minnesota Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm. “The high number of new cases we’ve seen in recent days shows the outbreak could quickly spread out of control, so it’s important to stay a step or two ahead. Innovative partnerships are one of the ways we do that. This next milestone allows us to expand and diversify our testing options available to Minnesotans. Increased access to testing and identifying positive cases as early as possible is a critical way to keep schools and the economy as open as possible. While testing alone will not suppress the virus, higher testing volumes are a central part of our strategy to manage the virus.”
The state plans to open as many as nine more sites across the state like the one planned for the DECC. This pilot opening will give state and local health officials a chance to see what kind of demand to expect for the additional saliva test sites in coming weeks.
“The Duluth Entertainment Convention Center is an ideal place for this next milestone,” said Dan Huff, MDH assistant commissioner for health protection. “Regional centers across Minnesota are great places many people from more rural areas regularly access. As a population center and home to more than 20,000 college students, opening this site in Duluth will increase access to testing among people who need it.”
The Duluth site will be open five days a week, Wednesday through Friday from noon to 7 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 pm. While it is open to walk-ins, people are encouraged to register in advance to make an appointment if they’re able, to prevent crowding and long lines. Appointments can be made through the registration website. Thirty minutes of free parking in the lot outside the testing site is available to anyone who drives to the testing site.
Testing is free to all Minnesotans who believe they need a COVID-19 test, including those who do not have symptoms. While they will be asked about their insurance, this is so the state can bill the insurance company. If a person does not have insurance or insurance doesn’t cover some or all of the cost, the state will cover the difference so testing remains completely free to everyone.
Results are typically provided by email within 24-48 hours of arriving at the lab for processing.
“I am deeply grateful to the Governor and the Minnesota Department of Health for choosing Duluth as one of these innovative, low barrier, critical testing sites,” said Duluth Mayor Emily Larson. “The DECC facility is easy to access for residents, visitors, and those across our region, and will be a great addition to the testing sites provided by our local hospitals.”
“Having this type of access to testing is another big step forward,” said St. Louis County Commissioner Patrick Boyle who chairs the county’s Health and Human Services Committee and is a nurse practitioner. “This saliva testing site removes barriers to testing for many people, whether they are uncomfortable coming to a medical clinic, don’t have insurance, or are anxious or uncomfortable about the nasal swab. And the testing site itself can offer a less intimidating experience, because they don’t require a large number of trained professionals, equipped with layers of personal protective equipment, or PPE.”
“The DECC is excited to partner with the State of Minnesota and Vault Health to be the first COVID saliva testing site in the State of Minnesota,” DECC Interim Executive Director Roger Reinert said. “This is perfectly aligned with the public part of our mission as a public authority. Palucci Hall is the ideal location for the testing site within the DECC footprint. It allows for easy entry and exit, as well as contained space within the facility. We continue to actively market the remainder of the DECC’s 800,000 square feet of indoor space for multi-usage.”
Those who come for a test should avoid eating, drinking, chewing, or smoking anything for at least 30 minutes before providing a sample. Once at the site, they will self-administer the test by spitting into a funnel attached to a small tube. Clinic staff will be available on-site to monitor the collection process and ensure there is enough saliva to be tested.
“Our saliva test is one of the most reliable COVID tests available with a 99% effective rate,” said Jason Feldman, co-Founder and CEO of Vault Health. “It’s comfortable to take and can be done without in-person interactions, meaning no risk of virus transmission and no need for PPE to conduct the test. Minnesota is truly leading the way in unlocking testing for everyone.”
Vault Health will operate the Duluth site, as the team has experience running sites like this all across the country. Vault is hiring local staff to work at the testing sites and lead daily operations. For now, the tests will be shipped to Vault Health’s New Jersey lab; however, Minnesota’s partnership includes the creation of a saliva testing lab in Minnesota. Once the lab opens in Oakdale in mid-October, saliva tests will be processed in Minnesota. When running at full capacity, the new lab will be capable of processing as many as 30,000 samples a day.
“Our strategy for managing the virus continues to be proactive, data-driven, and aggressive,” Huff said. “A higher testing capacity, combined with masking, social distancing, and staying home in isolation when appropriate, is critical to that strategy. Our work to bring saliva testing to Minnesotans is an important supplement to the COVID-19 testing options already offered across the state. Growing and diversifying our testing options is a tool to keeping Minnesotans safe.”
For more information about the saliva testing site in Duluth, please visit the COVID-19 Community Testing: Saliva Testing webpage.

Testing for COVID-19 is now more available in Minnesota. This video explains who should get tested, where to get tested, and how to get your results. To use ...

CASPER: COVID-19 Public Health Survey

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) is doing a voluntary, in-person survey to understand the effect COVID-19 is having on Minnesota communities. The survey is called a modified Community Assessment for Public Health Emergency Response, or CASPER survey. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) developed CASPER as an evidence-based tool to assess community needs. They have been used before to collect household information during public health emergencies such as hurricanes, oil spills, and the Zika virus outbreak. Several other states are also conducting COVID-19 CASPERs.

Information learned from the survey will help public health workers, and others who are part of the COVID-19 response, make decisions that best meet the needs of each community affected by COVID-19. Through the CASPER survey, we hope to:
Understand how COVID-19 has spread in Minnesota communities.
Understand what caused COVID-19 to spread in certain areas.
Explore how COVID-19 transmission and infection rates differ among regions in Minnesota.
Identify the percentage of people infected with COVID-19 that have no symptoms.
Improve health messaging and help stop COVID-19 spread.

No one is required to participate in the survey. Participation is voluntary, and you can stop at any point during the survey. If you don't participate in all parts of the survey, the information you do provide will still be included in survey results unless you tell the survey staff you do not want it included. If you tell the survey staff you do not want your information included, answers and test results will not be included in the final study.

The survey is funded through COVID-19 Relief Funds approved by the Minnesota legislature to conduct this survey and other studies.

Healthy Eating During the COVID-19 Pandemic - Minnesota Department of Health

COVID-19 may have changed a lot of things, but helping to rebuild a new routine can be helpful in fighting stress and fatigue. Help keep up with your mental and physical wellbeing by trying to stay active and eat healthy! We are living during difficult times because of the coronavirus pandemic. Those challenges can affect us both physically and emotionally. It’s hard to keep the same routine when you have to physically distance from others, especially if you’re at higher risk of getting really sick from the virus...

United Way 211 – 211 Site

Renters and homeowners behind on housing payments can get help through the COVID-19 Housing Assistance Program. Learn more: Call 211 (Toll Free: 1.800.543.7709; Local: 651.291.0211), go to, or text “MNRENT” or “MNHOME” to 898-211. Call 2-1-1Toll Free: 800-543-7709 Local: 651-291-0211Text your zip code to 898-211* 24-7 / Confidential / All Languages HOW CAN WE HELP?United Way 2-1-1 provides free and confidential health and human services information for people in Minnesota. We’re here 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to connect...

Bridge To Health Survey - Home Surveys began arriving in mailboxes the first week in September.  A follow-up mailing to non-responders will be released on September 21st. 

Minnesota Department of Health

We're partnering with communities across Minnesota to offer free COVID-19 testing. You do not need insurance or identification. You can get tested even if you don't have symptoms of COVID-19.

- Itasca County: September 23
- Pine County: September 23 & 24
- Ramsey County: September 24 & 25

Find a testing event and learn more:


A new study looking at almost 600 hospitalized pregnant women with COVID-19 found that pregnant women can have severe illness, including need for ICU care, and adverse birth outcomes. More than half of women with COVID-19 had no symptoms. Surveillance of pregnant women with COVID-19, including those who don’t have symptoms, is important to understand the short- and long-term consequences of COVID-19 for mothers and newborns. Take steps to slow the spread and protect yourself from COVID-19 during pregnancy:
• Wear a mask consistently and correctly
• Avoid large gatherings
• Wash your hands often
• Stay 6 feet apart from people who don’t live with you
• Continue to seek prenatal care

Read the new MMWR:


Do you know how to protect your pets during an emergency? Make a pet disaster kit that includes items like leashes, collars with ID, food, water, litter, vet records, medications, and microchip info. Know where your pet will stay during an emergency, and practice evacuating your pet ahead of time.


A new report in CDC’s MMWR found decreases in the percentage of teens who drink soda one or more times per day and sports drinks one or more times per day. Schools can provide access to free drinking water to support students’ healthy beverage choices. Learn more:

News Release: State launches 4-week push to increase access to “no barrier” COVID-19 testing Responding to increased levels of community spread of COVID-19 statewide, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) will launch a four-week effort to provide increased access to “no barrier” COVID-19 testing in communities across the state, beginning the week of Sept. 21. State health officials w...

Minnesota Department of Health

Pediatric visits at clinics have decreased during the COVID-19 pandemic. These visits are important for checking on a child’s growth, development, and getting recommended immunizations. Delaying or missing immunizations could put your child at risk for serious diseases. Talk to your child’s clinic to make an appointment and ask about safety measures they have in place to protect your family during COVID-19. Request your child’s immunization record to see what immunizations they need: #ivax2protect

Minnesota Department of Health

If you live with roommates, regularly disinfect areas that are touched often, like surfaces in the bathrooms and kitchen. These surfaces usually have the most germs, and it’s a good habit to get into with flu season around the corner, too. #COVID19

What You Should Do If You feel Sick - For Students

People with COVID-19 may feel sick in lots of different ways. If you don’t feel well, it’s important to tell your parent or a grown up. You should not come t...

How Food Affects Your Moods

How Foods Affect Your Moods There's more and more research indicating that diet may influence mood. We don't have the whole story yet, but there are some interesting clues.

This is just some of the information you can find on the MDH COVID-19 Dashboard.

Photos from Aitkin County Public Health Education's post

Mask Do's And Don'ts - For Students

Mask Do's And Don'ts For Students. Visit for the most up-to-date information on COVID-19. For information about schools, childcare and COVID-19...

The Effect of Food on a Child's Mood (What to Avoid) - Learning Liftoff

The Effect of Food on a Child’s Mood Many parents may be surprised to learn the effect of food on a child's mood. It may be best for children with mood issues to avoid these six types of food .


Moms with babies: COVID-19 is unlikely to spread through breast milk. Breastfeeding has many health benefits for both you and your baby, including protecting your baby from illnesses and providing the best nutrition. You are encouraged to breastfeed even if you have COVID-19.

Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before caring for your baby. If you have COVID-19, wear a mask while breastfeeding or expressing breast milk.

Learn more:


As of September 8, the total number of COVID-19 cases reported in the United States surpassed 6 million. COVID-19 continues to be widespread in many areas, particularly in the upper Great Plains, Midwest, and South. Additionally, 5 states reported more than 10,000 new cases in the last week. As college campuses reopen, recent data show overall cases have increased among non-Hispanic White people, especially in people ages 18-22. Take steps to slow the spread. Wear a mask over your nose and mouth in public. Stay 6 feet from others and wash your hands often. See more demographic trends using CDC’s COVID Data Tracker:

Minnesota Department of Health

Help slow the spread of COVID-19 so our teachers, students and staff can stay in school. Wear a mask, stay 6 feet from others, and wash your hands.

October is “Let’s Talk Month”

October is “Let’s Talk Month” Children who talk with parents and caregivers about sex and relationships are less likely to engage in risky sexual behavior. Some parents might not believe it, but young people say their parents and caregivers influence their decisions about relationships more than their friends, media, siblings or their dating partners. That is why Governor Dayton has proclaimed October 2018 as Let’s Talk Month: Let’s Talk Month Proclamation (PDF).

October Let’s Talk Month is a national and statewide initiative. As part of Let’s Talk Month the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) is encouraging adults to have open, honest conversations with young people to foster responsible and positive attitudes toward sexuality and healthy relationships. Research shows having those conversations helps kids stay on the right track. Minnesota teens who say they have an adult they can talk to and who cares about them are less likely to have sex during high school, according to the Minnesota Student Survey. In addition, young people whose parents have open conversations about healthy relationships start having sex at a later age and engage in sexually risky behavior less often than peers, according to Advocates for Youth.

“We encourage parents to look for opportunities to talk to their children about sex and relationships,” said Minnesota Commissioner of Health Jan Malcolm. “Research shows parents can play a powerful role in improving their child’s health through open, honest conversations. That ranges from having age-appropriate talks with young children about where babies come from to talking with teens about how to have a healthy relationship.” In addition, MDH is asking parents and caregivers to share their tips and stories. As part of our #MakeaDate campaign, parents, guardians, caregivers and caring adults can go to MDH's page or “Make a Date” campaign survey page to share a time when their children asked about the birds and the bees, or when they had a conversation about relationships and sexuality. Parents and caregivers who share a story will have a chance to receive a free age-appropriate book that will help guide conversations with their children. Parents and caregivers can also visit our Let's Talk Month webpage to get expert resources and guidance for getting started.

MDH recommends that parents and caregivers start having age-appropriate conversations about healthy relationships, their body and sexuality early in a child’s life. Though better late than never, parents and caregivers may miss an important window for preventing sexually transmitted diseases by waiting for the teen years. In the U.S., one in four teens contract a sexually transmitted disease or infection each year. The human papillomavirus (HPV) or genital warts, can be prevented through the HPV vaccine series, which is routinely offered for all adolescents at age 11 to 12 years. This safe and effective vaccine prevents life-long infection from HPV types that are responsible for numerous cancers.

In Minnesota, 11 percent of ninth graders and 35 percent of 11th graders report having sex, according to the 2016 Minnesota Student Survey. Of those who reported having sex, only about two-thirds used a reliable form of birth control in 9th grade and only about three-fourths used a reliable form of birth control in 11th grade, according to the 2016 survey. Minnesota has a variety of teen pregnancy prevention programs involving evidence-based and informed sex education, abstinence, birth control, parent education, and family planning. Minnesota has one of the lowest teen pregnancy rates in the country. There has been a 71 percent decrease in teen pregnancies since 1990, from 59 pregnancies per 1,000 teen females then, to 17 pregnancies per 1,000 teen females in 2016.


Media inquiries: Scott Smith MDH Communications 651-201-5806 [email protected]

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