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Minnesota's COVID-19 metrics going 'in the wrong direction,' health official says

COVID-19 case growth continues to rise in Minnesota and the Northland.

FSA Coronavirus local

In the last two weeks, the number of new COVID-19 cases confirmed in the Northland has increased by about 30%.

Statewide in Minnesota, that increase was more significant, at 60%, said Minnesota Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm in a media call Thursday.

"We are still in precarious territory," Malcolm said.

Kris Ehresmann, the Minnesota health department's infectious disease director, said that COVID-19 variants continue to drive the increase in case numbers and hospitalizations. More young people, or people younger than 60, are becoming hospitalized.

"All of the indicators and metrics we're looking at are continuing to go in the wrong direction," Ehresmann said, later adding: "We are concerned about what we're seeing related to variants."

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Health officials continue to stress the state is in a race between the variants and the vaccines.

More than 2 million Minnesotans have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and nearly 1.5 million have completed their vaccine series. Of those fully vaccinated people, meaning it's been 14 days since the last dose in their series, Ehresmann said 561 have tested positive for COVID-19. These are called "breakthrough cases."

Medical experts and health officials knew there would be COVID-19 cases that broke through the vaccine.

Of the 561 breakthrough cases:

  • 66 have been hospitalized, ranging between age 23 and 95.
  • 9 have been hospitalized in an intensive care unit, ranging between age 44 and 90.
  • 6 have died, ranging between age 69 and 92.

In the 10 counties of the Northland, which include three Wisconsin counties, another 793 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in the last week, April 9-15. Only a month ago, the weekly new case total topped out at 458, according to data from Wisconsin and Minnesota health officials.

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The last two weeks each brought four new deaths in the region.

The number of people with COVID-19 who are receiving intensive hospital care has steadily increased in the last week. On Wednesday, 45 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 in the region, and 14 of those people were in an ICU.

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St. Louis County

In the last week, April 9-15, another 430 people in the county have been confirmed to have COVID-19.

The county logged 355 new cases the week before, or April 2-8.

New cases in St. Louis County cities in the last two weeks:

  • Duluth — 440.
  • Hibbing — 74.
  • Hermantown — 44.
  • Virginia — 40.
  • Eveleth — 23.
  • Saginaw — 21.
  • Proctor — 20.
  • Gilbert — 18.
  • Ely, Chisholm — each recorded 15.

The county's seven-day testing positivity rate was 3.9% on Thursday.
Since Friday, April 9, the county has logged four new deaths, but two of those occurred in 2020 and hadn't been reported yet, according to St. Louis County. The two people who died recently were both in their 60s.

About 55% of people age 16 and older in St. Louis County have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Carlton County

While Carlton County has not reported a death from COVID-19 in almost two weeks, the county did see a 64% increase in cases this week compared to last week.

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Between April 9-15, health officials reported 74 new cases in the county. The week before, the county logged 45 new cases.

New cases in Carlton County ZIP codes in the last two weeks:

  • Cloquet — 48.
  • Esko — 24.
  • Barnum — 17.
  • Carlton— 15.

On Thursday, Carlton County's weekly testing positivity rate was 2.3%, half of what it was the week before.
Of those age 16 and older in Carlton County, 60% have had at least one dose of a vaccine.


New cases last week April 2-8, compared to this week, April 9-15, in other Northland counties:

  • Aitkin — 27; 26.
  • Cook — 2; 2.
  • Itasca — 87; 113.
  • Koochiching — 40; 32.
  • Lake — 4; 6.
  • Ashland — 11; 6.
  • Bayfield — 33; 3.
  • Douglas — 44; 82.

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