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Case numbers continue to show promise


December 25, 2020

Carlton County Covid cases continued their downward trend for the fourth week in a row, with an increase of 108 cases and four deaths because of Covid-19 from Tuesday to Tuesday, Dec. 15 to 22.

Compared to 172 new cases and eight deaths from Dec. 9-16, it’s a decrease. And those numbers were a decline from Dec. 2-9, when there were 224 new cases and 21 deaths, and Nov. 25-Dec. 2, when there were 327 new cases and seven deaths.

But the numbers are still much higher than Carlton County Covid numbers last spring and this summer, when there was just one death in the county for a matter of months.

On Aug. 30, there had been 120 cumulative cases of Covid-19 in the county. By Sept. 22, there were 246 and still just one death. By the end of October that number had more than doubled: the county was at 550 cumulative cases and two deaths. It took just over two weeks to double again, reaching 1,175 cases on Nov. 16 and eight deaths. A month later, on Dec. 16, the case number had doubled again, reaching 2,400 and deaths had more than tripled, at 29 people dead from the disease.

As of Tuesday, Dec. 22, the total cumulative cases in Carlton County reached 2,237 and 33 deaths — an increase of four since last week — according to the most recent numbers from the Minnesota Department of Health’s situation update for Covid-19.

But local and statewide officials aren’t celebrating yet.

It’s still winter, and the holidays are here. If people get together indoors, cases will likely increase. The latest state mandate still discourages indoor gatherings, but does allow people to gather inside with people who are members of one other household provided members of different households maintain at least 6 feet of separation from each other and adhere to additional precautions for social gatherings, including masking (and a maximum of 10 people total). Outside, according to the state, social gatherings may include members of three households total, with a maximum of 15.

Still, the decline in cases is a good sign and the arrival of the first vaccines this week was a remarkable moment, said Community Memorial Hospital CEO Rick Breuer.

The anticipated post-Thanksgiving surge didn’t materialize, perhaps because people listened to the pleas of healthcare officials and others.

The state’s Dec. 17 report by zip code showed most Carlton County cities with a continued decline in new cases. Cloquet reported 1094 cumulative cases, an increase of 51, versus 97 the previous week. Carlton saw an increase of 17 cases to 238. Esko increased to 315 cases, a jump of 11. Moose Lake is still climbing more rapidly and was up to 351 cases as of the Dec. 17 report, a jump of 47 since the week before. Barnum showed 162 cases, an increase of 13. Cromwell went up to 80 cases, up by 11 from the week before. Wrenshall reported 33 cases — an increase of two — and Kettle River stayed steady at 31 cumulative cases. Holyoke also held steady at 29 cases. For the sixth week in a row, Sawyer saw no increases, and still reports a cumulative total of eight cases.

In terms of number of positive test results, Carlton County has a cumulative rate of 5.7 percent: that’s the average rate of positive cases per 10,000 people since testing began this spring. The percent of positive cases from Nov. 29 to Dec. 5 came in at 6 percent, down from 9.1 percent the week before, and 13.3 percent two weeks before that (Nov. 8-14).

Local 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.

Carlton County testing sites include CMH Raiter Clinic, Min No Aya Win Human Services Center, MedExpress Urgent Care in Cloquet, Gateway Family Clinic in Moose Lake and Cromwell Medical Clinic.

There are also more innovative options available courtesy of the state and federal government in Duluth and Superior.

• Free saliva testing at the Duluth Entertainment and Convention Center is now available seven days a week in the DECC’s South Pioneer Hall. Drivers are asked to enter through the east entrance closest to the William A. Irvin and Marcus Duluth Cinema before parking and walking to Door A by the Curling Club entrance. Hours are noon to 7 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekends. Walk-ins are welcome but you are encouraged to register in advance at

• The University of Wisconsin-Superior is hosting a rapid results testing site that can provide results in as little as 15 minutes. Hours are 2-6 p.m. Monday through Friday in the Mertz Mortorelli Gym in the Marcovich Wellness Center. Registration is required and can be completed at

• All Minnesotans can now request a free, at-home saliva testing kit for Covid-19. Order your test online at; it takes about a week for delivery.


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