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Covid levels 'low' in county so far this winter

The Covid-19 pandemic will reach its third anniversary in March but, unlike in years past, the early winter is so far not showing signs of a transmission peak.

Only 4.1 percent of the county’s hospital beds were occupied by Covid-19 patients in the week through Dec. 28, said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in its weekly update of pandemic-related statistics.

During past winters at this time, intensive care units had seen Covid-19 patients fill 40 percent or more of available beds through the early parts of the winter.

The current level of Covid-19 transmission in Carlton County is characterized as “low,” with 28 reported cases last week, including three hospital admissions and no deaths.

Dr. Charles Kendall of Community Memorial Hospital in Cloquet said instructing patients with known illness or exposure to isolate or quarantine, while also following masking guidelines, has proven effective.

“I would urge people to follow guidelines for known Covid cases or exposures,” Kendall said, referring to Minnesota Department of Health and CDC guidelines.

CDC now recommends that people with Covid-19 isolate themselves for five days. Additionally, anyone who has been exposed to Covid-19 should quarantine for five days followed by strict mask use for an additional five days. Best practice for exposures also includes being tested five days after the exposure.

Kendall added the Cloquet hospital has had a few flu cases of late, but no deaths. Flu has caused 91 deaths in Minnesota so far this season, mostly in the Twin Cities metropolitan area, where flu transmission rates are far surpassing rates in rural Minnesota. It’s the most flu deaths since the state had 197 in 2019-20.

“If you have any viral illness symptoms, do a home Covid test,” Kendall said. “Avoid exposing others if you have a cough, or cold and flu symptoms. Wear a good mask if you must be out in public.”

Through Dec. 27, 16 percent of reported test results in Carlton County were returning as positive for Covid-19, the department of health said.