No ebb in county Covid cases


December 4, 2020

Covid-19 cases in Carlton County are still rising rapidly, although the increase over the past week is lower than the previous week, with 327 new cases from Nov. 25 to Dec. 2, versus 407 from Nov. 18-25, according to daily numbers provided by the Minnesota Department of Health.

Deaths from Covid-19, however, show no sign of slowing. Carlton County went from a total of two deaths on Oct. 27, to 15 deaths attributed to Covid by Friday, Nov. 27. Another two deaths were reported earlier this week.

Numbers in the Nov. 27 weekly state report on Friday were equally grim.

The state’s Nov. 27 report by zip code revealed several local zip codes breaking records for increased Covid cases. From Nov. 19 to Nov. 27, the numbers in the Cloquet zip code went from 639 cases to 825, an increase of 186, the largest jump in a week since the pandemic began. Esko increased to 246 cases, a jump of 54 cases in a week. Moose Lake was up to 205 cases, a jump of 50 since the week before. Carlton reported 140, a rise of 38 since Nov. 19. In less-populated areas, the numbers are lower: Barnum showed 116 cases, an increase of 14. Cromwell went up to 48 cases, up by 10 from the week before. Wrenshall and Kettle River each report 21 cumulative cases, with Holyoke at 23 and Sawyer at eight.

The list of local nursing homes or assisted living facilities with Covid exposure has more than doubled in recent weeks. As of Wednesday, Dec. 2, there were seven Carlton County facilities on the exposure list, including Augustana Kenwood Place, Augustana Mercy Care Center, Augustana Oakview, Diamond Willow Cloquet, Inter-Faith Care Center, Suncrest Assisted Living and Sunnyside Health Care Center. Exposure is defined as a person diagnosed with Covid who either visited, worked, or lived at a congregate care facility while they were contagious.

Carlton County has a cumulative rate of 5.5 percent: that’s the average rate of positive cases per 10,000 people since testing began this spring. However, a snapshot of recent testing and percent of positive cases from Nov. 8-14 put Carlton County at 13.10 percent positive per 10,000 people, up almost 5 percentage points from the week before.

The high rates in the community are bad news for schools, which would like to get back to in-person learning as soon as possible.

A key figure in determining whether schools should move to distance learning is the average number of positive cases per 10,000 people in the county (a specific two-week measurement provided by the state for the schools every week). That number has been climbing each week after holding steady between 10 and 20 cases per 10,000 people over the first six weeks of school. On Nov. 5 it was 38.55, then it doubled over the next week, to 78.22, in the Nov. 12 report. In the most recent report (issued Nov. 27, with numbers for Nov. 1-14), Carlton County showed 177.55 cases per 10,000 people, well beyond the state’s benchmark for distance learning of 50 cases per 10,000.

Nearly all Carlton County schools are either already doing distance learning, with the exception of Cromwell-Wright, where there is enough space and a low-enough case rate to continue with an in-person hybrid learning model so far.

Symptoms, 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 you are exposed to the virus that causes Covid.

Tests are readily available now. If the person does not have symptoms, it is best to get tested between 5 and 7 days after  a high-risk situation. If the  test is negative, they should get tested again around 12 days after the event. It can take 2-14 days for Covid to develop, so even if someone tests negative once, they could still develop Covid later and spread it unknowingly.

Slowing the spread of the coronavirus is not rocket science. Wear a mask in any public space, and make sure it’s clean, well-fitting, and placed over both nose and mouth. Stay 6 feet away from others. Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer frequently, but especially before eating or drinking or after being outside your home. Don’t gather in large groups, or even small groups outside immediate family. Keep interactions to 15 minutes or less as much as possible.

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.


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