Eight more north-central Minnesota residents, including three of whom were younger than 65, are among the dead from COVID-19 counted since Friday, Nov. 19.

They include three Aitkin County residents, ages 55-59, 70-74 and 85-89; two Mille Lacs County residents, ages 60-64 and 90-94; a resident of Morrison County, age 75-79; a Cass County resident, age 60-64; and a Wadena County resident, age 80-84.

With 162 new cases of COVID-19 reported among Crow Wing County residents since Friday, the county is on pace to exceed last week’s total by more than 30 new cases. If this trend bears out, it will be a return to escalating numbers again after two weeks of a downward trend in the county, just in time for the Thanksgiving holiday.

The hospital bed situation in the central Minnesota region improved incrementally over the weekend, according to the Minnesota Department of Health, with available intensive care unit beds increasing from one available as of Thursday to four available as of Monday. Non-ICU hospital beds available increased from 35 to 49 as of Monday. That increase, by 15 open beds, still places the central region at a vacancy rate of 6.4% of the 769 beds among regional hospitals.

Essentia Health Tuesday reported the Brainerd ICU dropped from nine patients Friday to eight patients Tuesday, but the number of COVID-19 patients increased from six to include all eight in intensive care. None were vaccinated.

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