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2/3rds of Crow Wing's 65+ residents have at least 1 dose of COVID-19 vaccine

According to data collected by the Minnesota Department of Health, 67.6% of Crow Wing’s residents age 65 and older received at least one dose of vaccine, also representing two-thirds of the 14,102 vaccine recipients thus far in the county.

RoseAnn Johnson receives her dose of COVID-19 vaccine from registered nurse Peggy Forstner Wednesday, Jan. 27, during a drive-up clinic at Cuyuna Regional Medical Center. The two-day clinic served nearly 800 patients ages 65 and older. Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch

More than two-thirds of Crow Wing County’s 65 and older population is at least partly vaccinated against COVID-19 as of Tuesday, March 9, while the state moves to expand eligibility to the next two priority groups.

According to data collected by the Minnesota Department of Health, 67.6% of Crow Wing’s residents age 65 and older received at least one dose of vaccine, also representing two-thirds of the 14,102 vaccine recipients thus far in the county. The number of vaccinated seniors in Crow Wing County exceeds the statewide figure of 67.1% — just short of Gov. Tim Walz’s 70% goal, although reported data is typically two days behind.

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Among surrounding counties, Aitkin, Mille Lacs, Morrison and Wadena counties each reported more than 60% of their senior populations are partly or fully vaccinated. Cass sits at 59%, while Todd County lags behind at 53%.

In terms of population as a whole, Aitkin County continues to lead the way regionally at 27% with at least one dose, while Todd again falls to the back of the pack at 16.4%. Crow Wing County sat at 22% of its population Tuesday.


During Tuesday’s Crow Wing County Board meeting, County Administrator Tim Houle noted this figure is somewhat misleading because it will not be possible to obtain 100% for some time, if ever. This is because a significant portion of the county’s population is younger than 16 years old — about 15%. None of the vaccines available are approved for this age group, and just one of the three in distribution in the United States is approved for those under 18 years old.

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Houle said “snowbirds” — or those who relocate to usually warmer locales during the winter months — returning to the community might have been vaccinated in other states, which he said might also throw off the county’s numbers.

“Vaccine supply seems to be rising, and that’s a good thing for our community,” Houle said. “This past week for the first time, we held a clinic for those over 65 and we had open slots that were not filled. And so I think it’s a good indication of where we’re at in that vaccination process.”
Houle said with vaccine supplies increasing, county public health and other vaccinators are considering what may need to be in place to take a mass vaccination approach.

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“I wanted to assure you that everybody’s thinking about that as vaccine supply gets to be more plentiful,” Houle said. “We’re doing our best to move through the population, given the guidance that we’ve received and the order in which we’re receiving it with whatever supply of the vaccine we’re being given.”

Peggy Stebbins, spokeswoman for Cuyuna Regional Medical Center in Crosby, said they were thrilled to hear the governor’s announcement expanding vaccine access to the next two population tiers, including those with underlying medical conditions and essential frontline workers in a number of specified categories.

“We are hopeful that next week brings large shipments of vaccine,” Stebbins wrote in an email Tuesday. “ … Our plan is to start vaccinating the next groups, as well as vaccinating those in the first groups that have not yet been vaccinated.”


Behind the numbers

A data correction Tuesday in the state health department’s figures showed 140 newly reported deaths due to COVID-19. This data, however, was almost entirely backdated, with four private labs previously failing to report positive test results to the state, according to David H. Montgomery of Minnesota Public Radio News. This also led to a misleading number of new cases reported Tuesday.

Among the 138 deaths previously not recorded were four in Morrison County: a 75- to 79-year-old; 80- to 84-year-old; 85- to 89-year old and a 95- to 99-year-old.

New cases continue to emerge in the region, although at a slowed pace more akin to late summer and early fall.

COVID-19 data as of March 9

  • Aitkin — 1,193, with 33 deaths; as of Wednesday, Feb. 17, 4,276 residents have received at least one vaccine dose, representing 27% of the county’s population.

  • Cass — 2,233, with 24 deaths; 6,536 residents with at least one dose, 22.3%.

  • Crow Wing — 5,242, with 82 deaths; 14,102 residents with at least one dose, 22%.

  • Mille Lacs — 2,311, with 47 deaths; 5,097 residents with at least one dose, 19.7%.

  • Morrison — 3,315, with 51 deaths; 6,412 residents with at least one dose, 19.4%.

  • Todd — 2,504, with 30 deaths; 4,007 residents with at least one dose, 16.4%.

  • Wadena — 1,322, with 20 deaths; 2,820 residents with at least one dose, 20.7%.

NOTE: These numbers are cumulative since March 21, 2020, and many are out of isolation.


CHELSEY PERKINS may be reached at 218-855-5874 or chelsey.perkins@brainerddispatch.com. Follow on Twitter at twitter.com/DispatchChelsey.
Chelsey Perkins is the community editor of the Brainerd Dispatch. A lakes area native, Perkins joined the Dispatch staff in 2014. She is the Crow Wing County government beat reporter and the producer and primary host of the "Brainerd Dispatch Minute" podcast.
Reach her at chelsey.perkins@brainerddispatch.com or at 218-855-5874 and find @DispatchChelsey on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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