Between July 23 and 29, the Northland's 10 counties recorded 122 positive cases of COVID-19. The region has recorded fewer than 100 cases in a week for the last six weeks, but cases have slowly been on the rise for three weeks. No deaths were recorded in the region in the seven-day period.
Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said the majority of new cases in the state are the delta variant of COVID-19. It is unknown how many of the cases reported in the Northland are the delta variant because of the time it takes for sequence testing, but St. Louis County Communications Manager Dana Kazel said the variant is known to be in the county.
Officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said about 97% of people hospitalized for COVID-19 nationwide are people who have not received a vaccine. Malcolm said the same is true in Minnesota.
"The problem here is very much a problem of unvaccinated people getting exposed to an extremely contagious and dangerous virus," Malcolm said.
In a statement, Essentia Health echoed that the majority of patients admitted to Essentia with COVID-19 infections are unvaccinated.
"While our caseload remains low, Essentia is prepared to handle a potential increase of patients as the much more transmissible delta variant spreads, particularly in areas where vaccination rates are low," the statement from Essentia said while encouraging people who have not received a vaccine to schedule an appointment to get one.
St. Luke's Infection Prevention Specialist Libby Maas also encouraged people to get vaccinated, stating that although St. Luke's has not treated an infectious patient in the last four weeks, there has been a steady increase in outpatient treatments for COVID-19 as cases in the community increase.
New cases in Northland counties July 23-29:
- Aitkin — 7.
- Carlton — 3.
- Cook — 0.
- Itasca — 7.
- Koochiching — 0.
- Lake — 6.
- St. Louis — 79
- Ashland — 6.
- Bayfield — 8.
- Douglas — 6.
St. Louis County
Of the 122 new cases in the Northland this week, 79 were in St. Louis County, according to the Minnesota Department of Health. Last week, there were 38 cases in the county.
New cases in St. Louis County cities July 23-29, according to St. Louis County Public Health:
- Duluth — 37.
- Hibbing — 20.
- Floodwood — 7.
- Hermantown — 5.
- Saginaw — 4.
- Chisholm, Tower — 3 each.
- Babbitt, Embarrass, Proctor, Side Lake — 2 each.
- Britt, Brookston, Cook, Ely, Forbes, Gilbert, Hoyt Lakes, Makinen, Virginia — 1 each.
As of Thursday, the county's seven-day testing positivity rate was 3.2%, up 1.6% from last week. The county conducted 2,467 tests July 23-29.
New cases in Carlton County ZIP codes July 23-29, according to Minnesota Department of Health data:
- Esko — 2.
- Barnum — 1.
Lake County had the highest percent positive rate of Minnesota's seven Northland counties for the second week in a row, with 6.4% positive cases out of 94 tests. Positive tests increased 2.4% from last week. Aitkin County also had a positive test rate above 5%, which is considered community transmission. The county's positive test rate increased 3.6% from last week, for a positive test rate of 5.2%.
In the Northland, an additional 1,938 people received a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine July 23-29, bringing the total of Northland residents with at least one dose to 222,976. In that time period, 1,549 people became fully vaccinated. The total number of fully vaccinated Northlanders is now 212,956.
Percentage of people with at least one vaccine dose in each county:
- Aitkin — 50%.
- Carlton — 56%.
- Cook — 73%.
- Itasca — 48%.
- Koochiching — 49%.
- Lake — 60%.
- St. Louis — 58%.
- Ashland — 57%.
- Bayfield — 63%.
- Douglas — 55%.