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2 Garfield Elementary students test positive

Higher positivity rate, lower testing rate in Crow Wing

Garfield Elementary School in Brainerd. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

It was a week that saw 119 new laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 cases in the seven-county region and at least four instances of the disease impacting the education system in the Brainerd lakes area, less than two weeks after the school year began.

A second report of positive cases in the Brainerd School District came Thursday, Sept. 17, when district officials learned two students at Garfield Elementary School were infected with the virus. Superintendent Laine Larson said the positive results did not lead to quarantine for anyone else, thanks to the actions of the students’ parents.

“There was nobody that came in contact with the children because the parents had really done their due diligence and followed the MDH (Minnesota Department of Health) protocols,” Larson said by phone Friday. “So the kids were never into the school at any time where they could have spread the virus. We are just really appreciative of the efforts of the parents.”

This follows the first report Monday, when a single case in a teacher at Forestview Middle School in Baxter led to four others being quarantined for 14 days, including social studies teacher and Brainerd City Council member Dave Pritschet. Also impacted this week were public charter school Discovery Woods, which transitioned to full distance learning for the next four weeks due to two positive cases, and the Brainerd Head Start program, which closed its center to in-person learning for 14 days because a staff member tested positive.

Cases update

Crow Wing County led the way among area counties with 48 new cases this week, bringing its 14-day total to 77 new cases and sending the cumulative number over the 400-mark to 410 as of Friday, Sept. 18. Two more hospitalizations among county residents were reported Friday as well — 25 people have required hospital-level care so far of the 410 residents who’ve tested positive.


Case numbers are climbing at a faster clip in Crow Wing County than they have at any other point since the pandemic began. It took 89 days for the county to reach its first 100 reported cases — from March 31 to June 28. The second 100 cases came in less than half that time, with 206 reported Aug. 2. It took another 27 days to reach the 300-mark, with 301 cases reported Aug. 29. And now it took just 20 days to move from 300 to 400.

Meanwhile, Crow Wing County remains well below the statewide per capita testing rate of 3,149 tests per 10,000 people. According to the health department’s weekly update, Crow Wing’s cumulative rate is 2,028 per 10,000.

Statewide, the positivity rate dropped by nearly a full percentage point since the previous week, but Crow Wing, Morrison and Aitkin counties all reported rates higher than the state average. Crow Wing and Morrison counties each saw 5-7% of tests return positive results, while Aitkin County was one of four counties in the state recording a 10-15% positivity rate.

COVID-19 data as of Sept. 18

  • Aitkin — 69 (+6 since Friday, Sept. 11), with one death.

  • Cass — 123 (+11), with three deaths.

  • Crow Wing — 410 (+48), with 18 deaths.

  • Mille Lacs — 136 (+11), with three deaths.

  • Morrison — 190 (+30), with one death.

  • Todd — 472 (+9), with two deaths.

  • Wadena — 61 (+4).

NOTE: These numbers are cumulative since March 21 and many are out of isolation. The number of those no longer needing isolation is not reported on a county-level basis by the state.


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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