Living Rural During a Pandemic
by Vicki Oakes (One of the MNbump Connectors)
2020 was a different year for everyone! Although I just may be a little partial – I wholeheartedly believe Big Stone County was a very good place to be during this time. When I look on the CDC website, I see that 46 million Americans live in rural areas “which face distinctive – challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic”… but when I look at where we are now and what the past year has looked like I see a strength and resilience!
First, to share the raw numbers of how COVID affected Big Stone County: We’ve had 543 cases of COVID with 4 total deaths.
Now… on to what it looked like as a Big Stone County Community in 2020 (to present) – from my view.
First, you may wonder what type of healthcare support we have. We have two excellent facilities.
Ortonville Area Health Services (OAHS) currently has 9 physicians (yes 9!). (They have some amazing assistance through community support organized by The Big Stone Health Care Foundation!) Care is provided through the Ortonville Hospital, OAHS Home Health Agency, Northside Medical Clinic, Clinton Clinic, and Fairway View Senior Communities. We also have an Airport for fixed-wing emergency airlifts and OAHS has a helicopter pad on-premise. Check out the OAHS website (LINK)
In celebration of Doctor’s Day on March 30th, Essential Health Foundation posted a summary of providers from the Graceville healthcare provider – below.
Make sure to check out all of our health & wellness providers throughout our communities (dental, eye care, chiropractic massage, and more)
Now to our kids! We have two school systems in Big Stone County and a VERY active 4-H group!!
A great deal of discussion has been had across the State of Minnesota on getting students back in school – as the Ortonville blogger, I can note that Ortonville Area Health Services worked closely with our school administrator and school board to monitor status… and our students missed very few in-building days. They also worked hard to provide the students opportunity to play and compete in their sports & other activities. I know this was not an easy task – they all worked very hard to make this happen for our students! It was so good to watch the excitement and competition at the events! The video below covers just a few highlights from some of the games and one of the 4-H events that I was able to attend. As a parent, I don’t think there is much that tops watching your children enjoying time doing the things they love! Huge shout out to our Schools and our County 4-H Administrator & volunteers for the work it took to make all this happen!
Our Businesses… it has been a struggle for so many with the mandatory closing and limitations; however, again… I see a community that really pulls together when the extra is needed. Our local chamber – Big Stone Lake Area Chamber – organized an effort very early on and worked with our local radio station KDIO and sold 2,074 gift certificates for our businesses for a total of $107,275.00! It really was a proud moment to see the community all in to help. When it came to the CARES funding sent out to Minnesota Counties and Cities… The County used $295,520 of their allotment for grants to our businesses and the City of Ortonville who received a total of $136,818 of CARES funding used $105,399 of that to provide grants to Ortonville businesses! Strong commitment to our businesses, here on the MNbump!
Big Stone County also processed the COVID Relief Grants which was an additional $250,000 to our businesses in March 2021.
There were also zero percent loans and payment relief during this time through other local efforts.
Concert of Prayer
Our faith community came together led by our pastors in an evening of prayer via Zoom. We had 9 pastors from across Big Stone County along with three who provided music during the event. We partnered with our radio station, KDIO, who broadcast the event that evening along with those that joined via zoom and 3900 views on Facebook. This was a very emotional evening that brought so many of us together. (and for all that were involved, this was a crash course on how to use the technology – and it all came together beautifully… to the relief of many!)
With so much outdoor space to enjoy while social distancing and getting your exercise, it is good to note that we are also very well connected – all of our rural areas of Big Stone County have fiber to the premise – internet service is not just in the communities, here on the MNbump! So… if you’re looking for housing, check out this link!
Our residents have had the ability to get outside for that fresh air and exercise with the many parks, lakes, and open spaces across the County. Here a few random photos from across the MNbump (Big Stone County)
While we were not able to have the many community events that we are accustomed to, we were really ready for a Christmas parade – and the Chamber organized an evening we all truly enjoyed… taking the parade through Main Street and also up to circle Fairway View Communities (senior housing) and by the hospital so that we could all could enjoy the event. Check it out below:
And… that is a really good start as to why I believe Big Stone County was a very good place to be during the pandemic!
Check out our Facebook Page for all of our daily updates – Facebook LINK
The Big Stone Lake Area Chamber also has an awesome Facebook Page to check out! BSLA Facebook LINK