The number of new COVID-19 cases and deaths have continued to decline across the Northland for the third consecutive week.
In the last week, the 10-county region logged about 700 more people who tested positive and nine more people who died from COVID-19 and its complications. Of those deaths, seven people lived in St. Louis County, while one each lived in Carlton and Douglas counties.
On Thursday, Minnesota exceeded 6,000 lives lost since the pandemic began.
This week marked four weeks since the Christmas holiday and three weeks from the New Year's holiday and it's looking like the state avoided a large post-holiday spike, Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said in a COVID-19 news conference Thursday.
"So while we could still see an increase in cases as a result of New Year's holiday in particular, the evidence does suggest that we may have already seen our post-holiday spike and that thankfully it was a modest and manageable one," Malcolm said.
Testing volumes have been down across the state since the holidays. Malcolm said the state would like to see those numbers rise back to where they were.
In Northeastern Minnesota, testing volumes dropped to about 12,200 tests this week. That's half of what that figure was in in early December and the lowest that number has been since late October.
In addition to the region's decline in new cases and deaths, another positive indicator is that weekly testing positivity rates dropped in five of the seven Northeastern Minnesota counties. The exceptions were Carlton and Koochiching counties, though both are still reporting rates under 5%, according to state data.
The weekly testing positivity rate is the percentage of tests that came back positive in the last week. Health officials widely view 5% and above as a sign of widespread community transmission. Lake County, which had a positivity rate of 6.9% on Thursday, was the only Minnesota county in the region with a rate above that threshold.
Koochiching County and Wisconsin's Douglas County were the only Northland counties to record more cases this week than the week prior, with 140 and 20 new cases since Jan. 15, respectively.
St. Louis County
St. Louis County recorded about 320 new cases since Friday, Jan. 15. Of those new cases, roughly two-thirds of those people live in the southern part of the county — Duluth, Hermantown, Proctor or Saginaw.
New cases this week in St. Louis County postal communities:
- Duluth — 195.
- Hermantown — 26.
- Virginia — 20.
- Hibbing — 16.
- Proctor — 13.
- Eveleth — 5.
All other communities in the county logged fewer than five new cases this week.
The county's latest testing positivity rate was 4.1%.
- Cloquet — 26.
- Carlton — 7.
- Wrenshall — 4.
- Barnum — 2.
Carlton County had a testing positivity rate of 4.6% as of Thursday.