Nearly one-quarter of all new COVID-19 cases reported in Crow Wing County last week were among children.

According to data provided by Crow Wing County Public Health, 50 of the 202 positive tests in the county reported Sept. 11-17 by the Minnesota Department of Health — or 24.75% — were among those 18 years old and younger. During the week before the school year started, a total of 16 youths, accounting for 11.35% of all new cases, tested positive.

Last week represents one of the few times since the pandemic began when the number of new cases among Crow Wing County children was 50 or higher. Just three other weekly totals matched or exceeded that figure, and all of those accounted for a smaller percentage of the overall total among all age groups.

The highest weekly total among children was 77 during the week ending Nov. 20, 2020, or 10.9% of the 705 cases reported that week — the high water mark in terms of total weekly cases in Crow Wing thus far. Two weeks later in early December, 50 cases occurred among children, representing 11.1% of all cases. The only other week during which at least 50 youth cases were reported was April 10-16, when 54, or 21.4%, tested positive. That was the same week Brainerd High School postponed its prom by five weeks, citing a high number of students in quarantine who’d otherwise miss the event.

When it comes to vaccinations, Crow Wing County remains below the state average in each of the age categories, but is the furthest behind among the youngest eligible. According to the health department, 28% of 12- to 15-year-olds and 39% of 16- to 17-year-olds in the county are at least partially vaccinated. Statewide, those figures stand at 53% for the youngest age group and 59% of 16- to 17-year-olds. Among all Crow Wing County residents 16 and older, 59.8% have received at least one dose, compared to 72.9% statewide.

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Cases continuing to rise

The majority of area counties were on pace as of Tuesday, Sept. 21, to report higher numbers of new COVID-19 cases among residents this week than a week earlier, continuing a steeper trendline upward.

Cass, Mille Lacs, Todd and Aitkin counties all appear to be on this track based on the most recent positive case data available from the Minnesota Department of Health. Cass County’s numbers are growing at the fastest pace relative to the county’s population, with 76 new cases reported since Saturday.

The pace of new cases in Crow Wing, Morrison and Wadena counties, meanwhile, slowed slightly, with all three of those counties projected to report fewer new cases this week than last based on the average number of daily reports. The potential dip in numbers is slight, however, with those projected weekly figures still among some of the highest since the surge this spring.

Citing the rise in COVID-19 transmission, Essentia Health announced Monday it would return to a stricter visitation policy at all of its hospitals. CentraCare followed Tuesday by instituting similar restrictions on the number of visitors allowed.

At Cuyuna Regional Medical Center in Crosby, leaders reported a positivity rate of 10% in Crow Wing County would trigger visitor restrictions. The most recent data available from the Minnesota Department of Health for the week of Aug. 29-Sept. 4 showed Crow Wing’s rate was between 5-7%. The New York Times, however, reported as of Monday, the positivity rate was 10% in Crow Wing.