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COVID-19 case growth, hospitalizations continue to slow in 7-county region

New biweekly data released Monday by the Minnesota Department of Health provided updated case numbers and resident deaths at congregate care facilities in the state.

Coronavirus art graphic
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New COVID-19 cases along with hospitalizations both continue to show signs of slowing in the north-central Minnesota region.

No new deaths among regional residents were reported Tuesday, Dec. 8, while the death of one Morrison County resident, age 80-84, was recorded Monday.

The number of new confirmed cases on a daily basis remains significantly higher than those recorded in the summer and early fall, but the downward trend has persisted through the early days of December. All seven area counties — including Aitkin, Cass, Crow Wing, Mille Lacs, Morrison, Todd and Wadena — are on average reporting fewer cases per day than during the month of November.

In Crow Wing County, which in the region saw the highest average number of cases in November at about 80 per day, has dropped to 53 per day so far in December. The three most recent days — Sunday, Monday and Tuesday — all saw new cases in the 30s. When adjusted for population, Morrison County experienced the highest rate of increase of all regional counties during November, adding about 48 cases per day, or 14.3 per 10,000 residents. It’s since dropped to about 35 cases daily, or 10.6 per 10,000.

Aitkin County has seen the largest decline between November and December as compared to its population. In November, that county added about 19 cases each day, or 11.6 per 10,000. At a 6.8 per 10,000 daily average so far this month, the rate has decreased by nearly 5 cases per 10,000 residents. Case numbers in Wadena County, meanwhile, are dropping at the slowest rate in the region — from about 17 cases per day in November to 16 per day in December, a difference of less than 1 per 10,000 residents between the two months.


Daily hospitalizations in Crow Wing County — the only county for which daily data is available to the Dispatch — dropped by nearly half between November and December. In November, a total of 102 hospitalizations were reported among Crow Wing residents, averaging 3.4 per day. So far in December, there’ve been 14 hospitalizations, or 1.75 per day. No new hospitalizations were reported this past weekend through Monday and three were added Tuesday.

Congregate care facilities

New biweekly data released Monday by the Minnesota Department of Health provided updated case numbers and resident deaths at congregate care facilities in the state.

Regional facilities adding the highest number of cases in the past two weeks include Edgewood Senior Living in Brainerd, increasing from eight cases as of Nov. 23 to 30 cases Monday; Edgewood May Creek Memory Care in Walker, which increased from seven cases Nov. 23 to 29 cases Monday; St. Otto’s Care Center in Little Falls, adding 19 cases for a total of 49; and Elim Wellspring in Princeton, which saw 17 new cases for a total of 60. In all of these facilities, the majority of new cases were among residents rather than staff members.

Five more residents died at Aicota Health Care Center in Aitkin, increasing the total number of deaths there to 21. This means more than two-thirds of all COVID-19-related deaths in Aitkin County occurred in that facility. Other regional facilities with multiple deaths over the past two weeks include Elim Wellspring, two deaths for a total of five; St. Otto’s Care Center, which reported its first two deaths; and Edgewood Senior Living, also reporting its first two deaths. One more death occurred in the Milaca Elim Home and Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls, and the first resident death occurred in Lakewood Health System Care Center in Staples, Edgewood May Creek Memory Care in Walker and Mille Lacs Health System Long Term Care in Onamia.

Of the 175 COVID-19 deaths reported in the region, at least 93 were residents in congregate care facilities, representing slightly more than half of all deaths at 53%. That’s a significantly smaller percentage than the statewide figures. Of the 4,027 deaths reported in the state as a whole, 2,660 — or 66% — occurred in congregate care.


COVID-19 data as of Dec. 8

  • Aitkin — 865 (+55 since Friday, Dec. 4), with 30 deaths.

  • Cass — 1,643 (+96), with 13 (+1) deaths.

  • Crow Wing — 4,070 (+173), with 40 deaths.

  • Mille Lacs — 1,778 (+118), with 35 (+1) deaths.

  • Morrison — 2,621 (+106), with 34 (+3) deaths.

  • Todd — 2,018 (+101), with 15 (+1) deaths.

  • Wadena — 943 (+64), with eight (+1) deaths.

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

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