6 Northland COVID-19 deaths reported Thursday

Six COVID-19-related deaths were reported in the Northland on Thursday, the most deaths reported in a single day in the region since Feb. 6. Douglas County, Wisconsin, and Cook County, Minnesota, each reported two deaths, while Carlton and St. Louis counties in Minnesota each had one death.

There were 11 deaths in the Northland in the last week, the highest weekly death toll since the week of March 12-18. However, positive cases were down, with 431 cases. This is the lowest the weekly total has been since that same week of March.

Positive testing rates declined compared to last week in St. Louis, Lake, Cook, Itasca and Koochiching counties, and increased by less than half a percentage point in Carlton and Aitkin counties. Itasca County, with 7.5%, is the only Minnesota county in the region that has a percent positive testing rate above 5%, which is the indicator for widespread community transmission.

Across the states, there were 1,011 new cases and 19 deaths in Minnesota and 485 cases and 11 deaths in Wisconsin on Thursday.

New cases and seven-day averages in Northland counties:

  • Aitkin — 4; 2.1.
  • Carlton — 6; 5.9.
  • Cook — 0; 0.9.
  • Itasca — 19; 20.6.
  • Koochiching — 3; 1.6.
  • Lake — 0; 0.4.
  • St. Louis — 26; 23.7.
  • Ashland — 1; 0.6.
  • Bayfield — 2; 1.1.
  • Douglas — 8; 4.7.

The COVID-19 vaccine world has seen a number of advancements this week, most notably the approval to administer the Pfizer vaccine to children between ages 12 and 15, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s new guidance for fully vaccinated people to no longer be required to wear masks in most settings, both indoor and outdoor.

Vaccinated people are still advised by health officials to wear masks and distance in places like hospitals, nursing homes, on public transportation or at transportation hubs like airports and bus stations, in prisons, or at homeless shelters. Anyone experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, regardless of vaccine status, should wear masks, stay distanced from others and get tested.

It’s not yet been announced if or how the new CDC guidance will impact Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz’s plan to lift the statewide mask mandate for indoor spaces by July 1 or when 70% of the state has received at least one vaccine dose. Currently, 60.9% of the state has at least one dose.

The CDC also released guidance that COVID-19 vaccines can be safely administered at the same time as other vaccines. The previous recommendation was to wait at least 14 days between a COVID-19 vaccine and other vaccinations.

In the Northland, 474 new first doses of vaccine were administered as of Thursday, and 1,247 people became fully vaccinated. There are now 199,735 people with at least one dose in the Northland, about 50% of the total population, and 178,554, or 45%, are fully vaccinated.

Percentage of people with at least one vaccine dose in each county:

  • Aitkin — 47%.
  • Carlton — 53%.
  • Cook — 69%.
  • Itasca — 42%.
  • Koochiching — 43%.
  • Lake — 53%.
  • St. Louis — 52%.
  • Ashland — 50%.
  • Bayfield — 57%.
  • Douglas — 47%.