St. Louis County recorded its highest single-day number of positive COVID-19 cases and deaths on Friday with 97 new diagnoses and five more deaths.
Two of the individuals who died were between ages 90 and 94 and one was between ages 85 and 89, according to the Minnesota Department of Health. The other two, both long-term care facility residents in their 90s, were listed as "probable" deaths by the state.
The state lists them as "probable" deaths from COVID-19 since they were tested with antigen tests instead of a nasal swab, or the PCR test, according to the county. PCR tests detect the genetic material of the virus while antigen tests detect specific proteins in the virus.
Previously, the most new cases the county recorded in one day was 73 on Sept. 25. Since contact tracing for those 97 cases was still ongoing as of Friday, the county didn't have full details to explain what was behind the surge, according to a county spokesperson.
However, of the 375 cases the county recorded Oct. 10-16, 38, or 10%, of them were students and staff linked to higher education, according to the county. Students and staff of K-12 schools made up 7%, or 25, of last week's cases, as did residents and employees of congregate living settings.
Contact tracing interviews have now linked any new cases in St. Louis County residents to presidential campaign visits since the News Tribune reported on four cases earlier this week.
That county's death toll from COVID-19 is now 61, a number largely brought on by outbreaks in long-term care facilities across the county. Only one of residents who died in the last week was not a resident of a long-term care facility, according to the county. That individual was in their 90s.
Counting the two probable deaths, St. Louis County has surpassed a record-high September in deaths and is on track to do the same with cases. So far in October, the county has recorded nearly 750 new lab-confirmed cases and 19 deaths. September saw 18 deaths and 803 new diagnoses.
The diagnosed residents St. Louis County recorded this week ranged between ages 5 and over 100, with a median age of 34, according to the county. Of the 375 cases recorded since Saturday, Oct. 10, 213 where in the Duluth, Hermantown, Proctor and Saginaw area. The rest were spread out across the rest of the county.
Another Itasca County resident has died from COVID-19, bringing the county's coronavirus death toll to 17. The individual was between ages 60 and 64.
Twenty-one more Itasca County residents have tested positive. County health officials continue to credit "super-spreader" events for driving up infection rates.
“While much about the coronavirus is out of our control, there are three simple things we can do to turn around surging COVID cases in Itasca County," Itasca County Public Health Division Manager Kelly Chandler said in a news release. "Every person is asked to keep 6 feet of distance from those outside of your immediate household, avoid gatherings and wear a mask."
If community spread doesn't decline, Chandler said schools will have to seriously consider pivoting to all-online learning.
Koochiching and Aitkin counties each recorded seven more people with COVID-19, Carlton County has four and Lake County has two.
Statewide, Minnesota reported 2,287 more confirmed diagnoses. Completed diagnostic tests are up 44,000 in the state. That's the most completed tests the state has reported in a single day.
The one-day testing positivity rate, meaning the percentage of tests that come back positive, calculates to 5.15%, far lower than Wisconsin's latest seven-day average of 20.7% positivity.
The Wisconsin Department of Health reported 18 more people with COVID-19 in Douglas County on Friday. The county's seven-day average of new cases is about nine per day.
Ashland County recorded four more people with COVID-19. The county has seen an average of five new cases a day in the last seven days.
Two more Bayfield County residents have tested positive. The county has seen an average of 4.6 new cases a day in the last seven days.
Across the state, Wisconsin reported 3,861 more people with COVID-19. Completed diagnostic tests are up by 14,586. In the last day, the state's seven-day average for testing positivity rates has dropped by a tenth of a percent to 20.7%.
This story was last updated at 3:44 p.m. Oct. 16 to include information from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. It was originally posted at 11:54 a.m. Oct. 16.