COVID-19 patients filled nine of the 10 intensive care unit beds at Essentia Health-St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Brainerd Tuesday, Oct. 5, with six of them requiring ventilators.

A source at Essentia Health reported half of the patients on ventilators had spent at least two weeks on the machines. Seven of the nine patients are unvaccinated.

If the last remaining ICU bed were to be filled, people requiring intensive care would be treated in the emergency department until beds become available in the Brainerd hospital or elsewhere, according to the Essentia Health source.

The packed Brainerd ICU comes amid a precipitous rise in new COVID-19 cases in the county, region and state as a whole, representing the second-highest surge since November 2020. As of data available Tuesday, which includes results through early Monday morning, a total of 234 new cases were recorded in Crow Wing County since Friday. This puts the county on pace to exceed 400 new cases this week.

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If cases were to rise by the same percentage — 40% — as they did last week, however, this would put the county’s total at about 535 new cases. The highest number of new cases ever recorded in a week in Crow Wing County was 698 for the week ending Nov. 20, 2020.

Meanwhile, across the seven-county region, a total of 714 new cases were reported since Friday — again setting the area on pace to exceed the 1,138 cases reported last week by more than 100.

The deaths of three area residents were reported since Friday: an Aitkin County resident age 90-94 and two Cass County residents, ages 50-54 and 70-74.