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Highest-ever COVID-19 case total recorded in Northland this week

Nine COVID-related deaths were recorded in the region Jan. 14-20.

FSA Coronavirus local
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DULUTH — The Northland reported 3,485 new COVID-19 cases Jan. 14-20 — the highest seven-day total ever recorded in the region. St. Louis, Douglas, Bayfield and Ashland counties all set records for highest seven-day case totals this week, too.

The previous seven-day case record in the Northland was set Nov. 20-26, 2020, when 3,163 cases were recorded.

Tests reported by the state health departments do not include positive at-home test results. The Minnesota Department of Health reported 37 new cases in Cook County in the past seven days, but Cook County Public Health reports 85 new cases Jan. 14-20 due to residents reporting their positive at-home antigen tests to Cook County Public Health and Grand Portage Health Services.

Nine COVID-related deaths were recorded Jan. 14-20 in the Northland, according to the Minnesota Department of Health and Wisconsin Department of Health Services. St. Louis County recorded four COVID deaths in the seven-day period. Itasca and Aitkin counties recorded two deaths in the last week and Carlton County recorded one.

The Minnesota Department of Health and the Wisconsin Department of Health Services do not provide the vaccination status of individuals who die or are hospitalized due to COVID.

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Fifty-five people were hospitalized Jan. 14-20 with COVID in St. Louis County, including three pediatric patients, according to St. Louis County Public Health. Five people were admitted to an intensive care unit in that time.

As of Jan. 20, 109 people have been hospitalized so far this month with COVID, including six pediatric patients, and 11 COVID patients have been admitted to an intensive care unit in the county.

New cases in Northland counties Jan. 14-20:

  • Aitkin — 52.
  • Carlton — 261.
  • Cook — 37.
  • Itasca — 304.
  • Koochiching — 100.
  • Lake — 83.
  • St. Louis — 1,943.
  • Ashland — 139.
  • Bayfield — 127.
  • Douglas — 439.

School outbreaks

Twenty-five Minnesota schools in the Northland have COVID-19 outbreaks.

The following schools listed have five or more confirmed cases in students or staff who were in the building while infectious during a two-week reporting period, the Minnesota Department of Health reported Thursday:

  • Duluth: Bay View Elementary, East High School, Homecroft Elementary, Lester Park Elementary,* Lincoln Park Middle School, Lowell Elementary, Marshall School* and Ordean East Middle School.
  • Proctor: Proctor Senior High.
  • Virginia: Virginia Secondary.
  • Hibbing: Hibbing High and Lincoln Elementary.
  • Aurora: Mesabi East Elementary.
  • Babbitt: Northeast Range Secondary.
  • Culver: South Ridge Secondary.
  • Two Harbors: Two Harbors Secondary.
  • Cloquet: Cloquet Senior High.
  • Esko: Winterquist Elementary and Lincoln Secondary.
  • McGregor: McGregor Secondary.
  • Grand Rapids: Grand Rapids Senior High and Robert J. Elkington Middle School.*
  • Keewatin: Keewatin-Naushwauk Elementary.
  • International Falls: Falls Elementary.
  • Littlefork: Littlefork-Big Falls Elementary.

* indicates newly added school.

The following schools were removed from the outbreak list this week:

  • Duluth: Laura MacArthur Elementary, Piedmont Elementary, Pike Lake Elementary Raleigh Primary/El Academy and Stella Maris Academy (Holy Rosary and St. John's campuses).
  • Hermantown: Hermantown Elementary, Hermantown Middle School and Hermantown High School.
  • Proctor: A. I. Jedlicka Middle School.
  • Virginia: Roosevelt Elementary.
  • Culver: South Ridge Elementary.
  • Cloquet: Churchill Elementary.
  • Moose Lake: Moose Lake Elementary.
  • Aitkin: Rippleside Elementary.
  • Grand Rapids: West Rapids Elementary.
  • International Falls: Falls Secondary.

St. Louis County

Of the 3,485 new cases in the Northland this week, 1,943 were in St. Louis County, according to the Minnesota Department of Health. Last week, there were 1,514 cases in the county.

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Cases in St. Louis County cities Jan 14-20, according to St. Louis County Public Health:

  • Duluth — 1,364.
  • Hermantown — 126.
  • Hibbing — 103.
  • Virginia — 67.
  • Proctor — 59.
  • Chisholm — 45.
  • Ely, Eveleth — 35 each.
  • Saginaw — 29.
  • Tower — 27.
  • Aurora — 18.
  • Nett Lake — 17.
  • Mountain Iron — 14.
  • Hoyt Lakes — 13.
  • Britt, Gilbert — 12 each.
  • Brookston — 10.
  • Alborn, Embarrass, Orr — 7 each.
  • Cook, Culver, Floodwood — 6 each.
  • Buhl, Iron — 5 each.

All other cities in St. Louis County recorded fewer than five cases this week.
As of Jan. 20, the county's seven-day testing positivity rate was 10.7%, up 0.6% from last week. The county reported results from 18,199 tests Jan. 14-20 — the most ever in one week for the county.

According to data from St. Louis County Public Health, 470 cases were recorded in people younger than 20 in the seven-day period Jan. 14-20. People age 20-24 accounted for the largest case total in the county, with 296 people in the age category testing positive.

The second-highest total of new cases was reported in people age 25-29, with 222 reported cases.

Carlton County

Carlton County logged 261 new cases Jan. 14-20. As of Thursday, the county's seven-day testing positivity rate was 6.7%, up 1.5% from last week. The county reported results from 3,908 tests Jan. 14-20.

New cases in Carlton County ZIP codes Jan. 14-20, according to Minnesota Department of Health data:

  • Cloquet — 150.
  • Esko — 60.
  • Moose Lake — 33.
  • Barnum — 23.
  • Carlton — 22.
  • Wrenshall — 15.
  • Cromwell, Wright — 7 each.

All other Carlton County cities recorded fewer than five cases.
All seven Northland Minnesota counties had positive test rates above 5% this week. St. Louis, Cook, Itasca and Aitkin counties had rates higher than 10%. Itasca County's positive test rate was the highest at 12.3%, with 304 positive cases reported from 2,463 tests in seven days.

“Brace yourselves,” Kelly Chandler, Itasca County Public Health division manager, said in a news release Thursday. “COVID is sweeping through our towns, families, schools and teams. Thankfully, 61.6% of all eligible (Itasca County) residents are vaccinated, which is making their symptoms less severe. At this point, though, it’s important to understand how to survive this surge and how to protect the most vulnerable among us. It’s also not too late to get vaccinated. We are blessed with good supplies throughout the county.”

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Vaccines

As of Jan. 20, 266,695 residents have received at least one dose of COVID vaccine — about 67% of the Northland's total population — and 251,007 residents are fully vaccinated — about 63% of the total Northland population. Between Jan. 14 and 20, 1,212 people received a first dose of vaccine and 846 people became fully vaccinated.

Percentage of people with at least one vaccine dose in each county (includes entire county population):

  • Aitkin — 60%.
  • Carlton — 69%.
  • Cook — 85%.
  • Itasca — 58%.
  • Koochiching — 57%.
  • Lake — 71%.
  • St. Louis — 68%.
  • Ashland — 70%.
  • Bayfield — 73%.
  • Douglas — 66%.
Laura Butterbrodt covers health and business 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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