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7 Northlanders dead from COVID-19 in past week

Cases continue to rise in the Northland, with 1,287 recorded Sept. 24-30. Six Northland schools are on the state's outbreak list.

FSA Coronavirus local

Fifty COVID-19 patients were hospitalized in St. Louis County in the last seven days, according to St. Louis County Public Health. A total of 110 COVID-19 patients were hospitalized in the county in September. This is the most COVID-19 patients hospitalized in the county in one month this year.

Fourteen patients were admitted to the intensive care unit in September, an increase of three admissions from last Thursday. During 2020's peak of cases, 282 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 in November and 61 patients were admitted to the ICU that month.

St. Louis County Public Health Division Director Amy Westbrook wrote in a COVID-19 update Tuesday that area hospitals have been at capacity for weeks and have had to divert patients to other hospitals for lack of beds.

The Northland recorded 1,287 cases in its 10-county region Sept. 24-30, again setting the 2021 seven-day case total record. Last week, there were 1,101 cases recorded in the region.

There were seven COVID-19-related deaths recorded in the Northland this week, according to the Minnesota Department of Health. Five deaths were in St. Louis County. Aitkin and Itasca counties each recorded one COVID-19-related death.


Westbrook wrote that more people in St. Louis County tested positive in the last week than a year ago at this time. According to News Tribune records, cases were half of what they are now: 634 positive cases were recorded Sept. 25-Oct. 1, 2020.

"(L)ast year, what followed in late fall and early winter was a surge in hospitalizations, ICU admittances and deaths," Westbrook wrote. "We can do better this autumn. We know more β€” and continue to learn more β€” about how the virus circulates; and we have the best defense to serious illness β€” a vaccine."

Just under 120,000 St. Louis County residents have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and about 80,000 people are unvaccinated β€” including children who are not yet eligible. Westbrook stated the county encourages all school districts to implement layered strategies of masking, social distancing and good ventilation during in-person learning.

Northland COVID-19 cases by week.jpg
Gary Meader / gmeader@duluthnews.com

School outbreaks

Six Northland schools have COVID-19 outbreaks β€” five or more confirmed cases in students or staff who were in the building while infectious during a two-week reporting period β€” the Minnesota Department of Health reported Thursday:

  • North Woods Secondary in Cook;
  • Bigfork Elementary and Bigfork Secondary in Bigfork;
  • Falls Elementary and Falls Secondary in International Falls;
  • Littlefork-Big Falls Elementary in Littlefork.

St. Louis County reported an average of 20-30 new cases in schools daily. According to data from St. Louis County Public Health, children age 10-14 accounted for the largest number of cases in the last seven days. Between Sept. 24 and 30, 78 children age 10-14 tested positive for COVID-19. People age 30-34 accounted for the second-largest case total, with 61 people in that age category testing positive this week.
New cases in Northland counties Sept. 24-30:

  • Aitkin β€” 48.
  • Carlton β€” 108.
  • Cook β€” 4.
  • Itasca β€” 176.
  • Koochiching β€” 67.
  • Lake β€” 59.
  • St. Louis β€” 678.
  • Ashland β€” 50.
  • Bayfield β€” 28.
  • Douglas β€” 69.

St. Louis County

Of the 1,287 new cases in the Northland this week, 678 were in St. Louis County, according to the Minnesota Department of Health. Last week, there were 611 cases in the county.


New cases in St. Louis County cities Sept. 17-23, according to St. Louis County Public Health:

  • Duluth β€” 201.
  • Hibbing β€” 86.
  • Virginia β€” 80.
  • Eveleth β€” 51.

  • Chisholm β€” 31.
  • Aurora, Proctor β€” 17 each.
  • Saginaw β€” 16.
  • Hoyt Lakes, Iron β€” 14 each.
  • Orr β€” 13.
  • Gilbert β€” 12.
  • Hermantown β€” 11.
  • Tower β€” 10.
  • Cook, Nett Lake β€” 9 each.

  • Buhl β€” 8.
  • Britt β€” 7.
  • Floodwood, Mountain Iron β€” 6 each.
  • Babbitt, Biwabik β€” 5 each.

All other St. Louis County cities recorded fewer than five cases.
As of Thursday, the county's seven-day testing positivity rate was 6.3%, up 0.3% from last week. The county conducted 10,774 tests Sept. 24-30.

Carlton County

Carlton County logged 108 new cases in the last week. Those new cases came from 1,819 tests, putting this week's testing positivity rate at 5.9%, up 2.5% from last week.

New cases in Carlton County ZIP codes Sept. 24-30, according to Minnesota Department of Health data:

  • Cloquet β€” 49.
  • Moose Lake β€” 15.
  • Barnum, Esko β€” 12 each.
  • Carlton β€” 6.
  • Wrenshall β€” 5.

All other Carlton County cities recorded less than five cases.
All Minnesota Northland counties except Cook County had positive test rates above 5% this week. Lake County's positivity rate was the highest, at 8.3%.

In the Northland, an additional 180 people received a first dose of vaccine, bringing the total of Northland residents with at least one dose to 234,867, and 355 people became fully vaccinated. The total number of fully vaccinated Northlanders is now 223,479 β€” about 56% of the Northland's total population.

Percentage of people with at least one vaccine dose in each county:


  • Aitkin β€” 54%.
  • Carlton β€” 60%.
  • Cook β€” 69%.
  • Itasca β€” 51%.
  • Koochiching β€” 51%.
  • Lake β€” 63%.
  • St. Louis β€” 60%.
  • Ashland β€” 62%.
  • Bayfield β€” 67%.
  • Douglas β€” 60%.
Laura Butterbrodt covers health for the Duluth News Tribune. She has a bachelor of arts in journalism from South Dakota State University and has been working as a reporter in Minnesota and South Dakota since 2014.
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