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4 COVID-19 deaths in Crow Wing County as positivity rate drops below 4%

While deaths continue to add up in the region and statewide, signs point to a slowdown in the recent surge of new coronavirus cases and the hospitalizations that come with it.

Cars drive through the lanes outside the Essentia Health COVID-19 testing site recently on Kingwood Street in north Brainerd. Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch

The deaths of four Crow Wing County residents were reported by the state health department Wednesday and Thursday, Dec. 9-10, along with three other regional deaths.

Also reporting deaths from complications of COVID-19 were Mille Lacs County with two deaths and Morrison County with one. Those in Crow Wing ranged in age from early 70s to late 80s, while those in Mille Lacs County were late 80s and early 90s. In Morrison, the deceased resident was in their early 80s.

While deaths continue to add up in the region and statewide, signs point to a slowdown in the recent surge of new coronavirus cases and the hospitalizations that come with it. Most notably in the region, Crow Wing County is one of just four counties in the state for which the seven-day COVID-19 positivity rate was below 5%, according to the most recent data.

On a data dashboard maintained by Essentia Health, that rate was 3.85% for Crow Wing as of Sunday. The percentage represents the number of positive tests recorded out of all tests given during the previous seven days. This is down significantly from a peak above 15% in mid-November. The reduction in positivity rate is also reflected in statewide data, which showed a drop from 12.7% on Dec. 2 to 5.1% a week later on Thursday.

The other three counties achieving that rate all have significantly lower populations than Crow Wing — Cook and Lake counties in the Arrowhead and Traverse County along the South Dakota border, in which fewer than 3,500 people live.


Still, the central region of the state as a whole continues to be experiencing strain on its hospital systems, according to Minnesota Department of Health data. Staffed intensive care unit bed availability stood at 14% as of Wednesday, meaning 92 of 107 available beds were in use by both COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 patients.

The percentage of available non-ICU beds was even lower for the region: 10.3%, or 79 out of 769 total beds open. More beds were available in both categories just a day earlier on Tuesday. Since that time, patients filled 28 non-ICU beds and six ICU beds.

Of the 92 patients in the ICU Wednesday in the central region, the health department reported 44 were COVID-19 positive. While this is down by a significant margin from the high point on Nov. 24, when 67 COVID-19 patients were receiving intensive care, it remains much higher than anything seen through October.

Between June 9 and Wednesday in the region, there were just 11 days with no COVID-19 patients in the ICU. All of those occurred in late August and early September.

COVID-19 data as of Dec. 10

  • Aitkin — 871 (+61 since Friday, Dec. 4), with 30 deaths.

  • Cass — 1,687 (+140), with 13 (+1) deaths.

  • Crow Wing — 4,117 (+220), with 44 (+4) deaths.

  • Mille Lacs — 1,824 (+164), with 37 (+3) deaths.

  • Morrison — 2,669 (+154), with 35 (+4) deaths.

  • Todd — 2,069 (+142), with 15 (+1) deaths.

  • Wadena — 969 (+90), with eight (+1) deaths.

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

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