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Number jumble remains alarming


November 27, 2020

For several weeks now, Carlton County has seen a surge in its Covid-19 numbers.

Not only are the day-to-day numbers of positive cases jumping by alarming amounts — by 81 on Sunday, 77 on Tuesday — the percentage of positive cases is also climbing.

While increased numbers of tests will usually result in higher numbers of both positive and negative cases, more tests do not automatically equate to a higher percentage of positive tests.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, the percentage of positive test results goes down when more people test negative. This can happen when the number of infections goes down, or when testing is expanded to more people who are not infected, especially as more people are being screened in non-outbreak settings.

Expanded testing can also result in an increase of the percentage of positive results when there is widespread transmission because it may reveal more people who are infected.

That appears to be happening in Carlton County. According to Minnesota Department of Health reports, the cumulative percent of positive cases was 4.9 percent as of Nov. 19 in the county, a number that reflects all positive cases and tests here since March. However, the most recent weekly percentage available from the state (for the week of Nov. 1-7) puts the positivity rate for that week at 8.8 percent, up from 8 percent the week before and 6.4 percent the week before that.

Community Memorial Hospital CEO Rick Breuer said they are seeing a lot more people come through the Raiter Clinic testing facility now.

“We have seen our daily testing rise from 20-30 to now routinely going over 70 and even 80 on a couple of occasions,” he told the Pine Knot News last week.

While many people experience only minor symptoms, others can end up in the hospital or worse.

“Hospitalizations are also up at CMH and across the region,” Breuer said. “Hospital beds were already fairly full, and now we are seeing up to three times as many patients hospitalized for Covid-19 than we had previously.”

CMH is also rescheduling non-emergency inpatient procedures and limiting the hours for scheduled cases to help preserve staffing and beds, Breuer said, explaining that the hospital has a plan for limiting surgeries that contains four tiers, and they are in the second tier. “This is a fluid decision made each week for the next, based on current and projected volumes,” he said.

At the same time, Breuer stressed that people should not neglect their overall health.

“Covid-19 is prevalent in our communities,” he said. “But we are still seeing more people who have other diseases, injuries, or other health issues. Don’t ignore those problems and let them grow out of control.”


Tests are much more readily available now, across the county and also in the Twin Ports.

Carlton County testing sites include CMH Raiter Clinic, Min No Aya Win Human Services Center, MedExpress Urgent Care in Cloquet (they offer an antigen test with a 15-minute turnaround time), Gateway Family Clinic in Moose Lake and Cromwell Medical Clinic. Most clinics require an appointment.

With the onset of colder weather, the Covid-19 test site will move indoors at CMH Raiter Family Clinic to accommodate patients and staff.

On Monday, Nov. 30, a special traffic lane on Arthur Avenue — on the east side of the clinic — will be established and anyone wishing a test will need to get in line and remain in their vehicle, proceeding forward as the line of traffic progresses.

Patients will not be required to have a doctor’s order to receive the Covid-19 test. To request a test, call the clinic at 218-879-1271 and arrangements will be made.

for the testing.

Anyone who has symptoms of Covid-19 or who has been exposed to someone they think may have the disease is encouraged to seek testing.

Symptoms can include fever, cough, shortness of breath, chills, headache, muscle pain, sore throat, fatigue, congestion, or loss of taste or smell. Other less common symptoms include gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. These symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus that causes Covid.


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