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Northland shatters weekly COVID-19 case record

The previous record in the Northland — 3,485 new COVID cases — was reported last week. This week's number is 5,689.

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DULUTH — The Northland reported 5,689 new COVID-19 cases Jan. 21-27 — setting the highest seven-day total ever recorded in the region for the second week in a row. St. Louis, Carlton, Lake, Aitkin, Itasca, Koochiching and Bayfield counties all set records for highest seven-day case totals this week, too.

The previous seven-day case record in the Northland — 3,485 new COVID cases — was reported Jan 14-20.

Tests reported by the state health departments do not include positive at-home test results. The Minnesota Department of Health reported 24 new cases in Cook County in the past seven days, but Cook County Public Health reports 56 new cases Jan. 21-27 due to residents reporting their positive at-home antigen tests to Cook County Public Health and Grand Portage Health Services.

Twenty-one COVID-related deaths were recorded Jan. 21-27 in the Northland, according to the Minnesota Department of Health and Wisconsin Department of Health Services. St. Louis County recorded 11 COVID-related deaths in the seven-day period. Itasca County had four deaths, and Koochiching County recorded two. Aitkin, Cook, Ashland and Bayfield counties each recorded one death this week, including a person age 30-34 in Cook County, who is the second person to die of COVID in the county.

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.


Sixty-two people were hospitalized Jan. 21-27 with COVID in St. Louis County, including five pediatric patients, according to St. Louis County Public Health. No one was admitted to an intensive care unit with COVID in that time.

As of Jan. 27, 171 people have been hospitalized so far this month with COVID, and 11 COVID patients have been admitted to an intensive care unit in the county. Eleven pediatric patients have been hospitalized so far this month, which is the most COVID pediatric hospitalizations ever recorded in a month.

New cases in Northland counties Jan. 21-27:

  • Aitkin — 107.
  • Carlton — 625.
  • Cook — 24.
  • Itasca — 590.
  • Koochiching — 167.
  • Lake — 158.
  • St. Louis — 3,349.
  • Ashland — 119.
  • Bayfield — 144.
  • Douglas — 406.

School outbreaks

Twenty-six Minnesota schools in the Northland have COVID 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, Congdon 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.

St. Louis County

Of the 5,689 new cases in the Northland this week, 3,349 were in St. Louis County, according to the Minnesota Department of Health. Last week, there were 1,943 cases in the county.

Cases in St. Louis County cities Jan 21-27, according to St. Louis County Public Health:


  • Duluth — 1,887.
  • Hibbing — 243.
  • Hermantown — 170.
  • Virginia — 127.
  • Proctor — 90.
  • Eveleth — 69.
  • Saginaw — 59.
  • Chisholm — 48.
  • Ely — 45.
  • Gilbert — 40.
  • Aurora — 35.
  • Hoyt Lakes — 32.
  • Mountain Iron — 28.
  • Babbitt — 21.
  • Britt — 19.
  • Cook — 18.
  • Biwabik — 14.
  • Floodwood — 12.
  • Buhl — 11.
  • Meadowlands — 10.
  • Brookston, Embarrass — 9 each.
  • Alborn, Cotton, Orr — 8 each.
  • Iron — 7.
  • Side Lake — 6.
  • Culver, Makinen — 5 each.

All other cities in St. Louis County recorded fewer than five cases this week.
As of Jan. 27, the county's seven-day testing positivity rate was 17.4%, up 6.7% from last week. The county reported results from 19,220 tests Jan. 21-27 — the most ever in one week for the county. Only laboratory tests, not at-home or rapid tests, are included in the data.

According to data from St. Louis County Public Health, 744 cases were recorded in people younger than 20 in the seven-day period Jan. 21-27. People age 20-24 accounted for the largest case total in the county, with 341 people in the age category testing positive.

The second-highest total of new cases was reported in people age 35-39, with 289 reported cases.

Carlton County

Carlton County logged 625 new cases Jan. 14-20. As of Thursday, the county's seven-day testing positivity rate was 14.4%, up 7.7% from last week. The county reported results from 4,352 tests Jan. 21-27.

New cases in Carlton County ZIP codes Jan. 21-27, according to Minnesota Department of Health data:

  • Cloquet — 298.
  • Moose Lake — 95.
  • Esko — 77.
  • Carlton — 69.
  • Barnum — 57.
  • Wrenshall — 21.
  • Sawyer — 13.
  • Kettle River — 7.
  • Cromwell, Holyoke — 6 each.
  • Wright — 5.

All seven Northland Minnesota counties had positive test rates above 10% this week. Itasca County's positive test rate was the highest at 23.3%, with 590 positive cases reported from 2,537 tests in seven days. Only laboratory tests, not at-home or rapid tests, are included in the data.


As of Jan. 27, 267,537 residents have received at least one dose of COVID vaccine — about 67% of the Northland's total population — and 251,763 residents are fully vaccinated — about 63% of the total Northland population. Between Jan. 21 and 27, 842 people received a first dose of vaccine and 756 people became fully vaccinated.


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

  • Aitkin — 60%.
  • Carlton — 70%.
  • Cook — 85%.
  • Itasca — 59%.
  • Koochiching — 57%.
  • Lake — 71%.
  • St. Louis — 68%.
  • Ashland — 71%.
  • Bayfield — 74%.
  • Douglas — 67%.
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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