By MPR News 

Still the same: Covid cases climb


October 1, 2021

Minnesota’s current Covid-19 surge won’t relent.

The newest data show the disease still firmly entrenched in the state. While a jump in testing can explain much of the latest increase in case counts, the numbers also show the current wave stubbornly refusing to crest.

“These are numbers we had hoped we would not see again,” Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm told reporters Sept. 24 after the state reported nearly 3,000 more cases. Within the next few days, the state expects to top 700,000 total known cases in the pandemic, she added.

After inching downward through the week, Friday’s daily count of known, active cases jumped to 19,334, a level not seen since mid-April.

Much of the new case growth is happening outside of the Twin Cities area.

The number of deaths in Carlton County caused by Covid-19 went up by one last week, to 60 since the pandemic began. The number of cases increased by 103 to 4,059 cumulative cases, from Sept. 22 to 29, following an increase of 84 the week before.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports the positivity rate for the county each day: it was at 5.96 percent Wednesday, up from 4.4 percent a week earlier. Additionally, the CDC reported three hospital admissions in Carlton County on Tuesday, and two more on Wednesday.

The weekly case rate for Carlton County is also climbing. In last Thursday’s report the case rate per 10,000 people was 19.1 for the week ending Sept. 11 — the most recent number available — up from 15.5 percent the week before and 10.1 percent the week ending Aug. 28.

Carlton County Public Health held a vaccination clinic in Moose Lake on Thursday; search for the Carlton County Covid Hub to get the latest update. Cloquet continues to have the highest number of new cases in the county at 55 from Sept. 17-23, followed by Moose Lake, at 17 for the same time period. All other county cities were in the single digits for new cases.

The rate of tests coming back positive remains relatively stable — the seven-day average is hovering at around 6 percent, higher than the 5 percent officials find concerning but not leaping as it has in other waves.

Cases continue to rise, driven since late summer by the highly contagious delta variant.

Officials have been anxious for weeks that the new school year would bring an increase in the number of cases among kids. Three weeks in, that appears to be happening. More than 770 school buildings currently report at least one case of Covid-19 among students or staff.

“We’re tired of the fear, the frustration, the uncertainty” of the pandemic, Malcolm said as she implored Minnesotans to stay vigilant against the disease and work to slow its transmission. “Getting vaccinated, far and away, is our single most valuable tool.”

The state’s death toll stands at 8,076 including 27 newly reported deaths Friday on top of 24 reported Thursday. That’s the first time since January with consecutive days of more than 20 deaths reported.

The seven-day rate of reported deaths is now higher than the peak from the spring.

Current hospital and intensive care needs have risen during this summer-fall wave — 752 people are in hospital beds currently with Covid-19, including 213 ICU cases. Those counts have ticked down in recent days, although they’re still higher than in the April surge.

“We continue to have grave concerns about the impact of this latest wave on our hospitals,” both in the pressure around hospital capacity as well as the impact on health care workers, Malcolm said.

Minnesota remains better positioned now than during its fall and spring spikes. Seventy-two percent of state residents age 12 and older have received at least one vaccination shot, and more than two-thirds of that population are completely vaccinated.

The Pine Knot News contributed to this report. The original MPR story appeared at


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