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Crow Wing, Aitkin near 50% with vaccine; County leader hopes rate prevents deaths in case upswing

More than three-quarters of Crow Wing County’s 65-plus population — 78.4% — have at least one dose thus far, representing about 11,000 seniors. Of those ages 50-64 in the county, 47% received at least one dose as of Sunday.

Crow Wing County Administrator Tim Houle discusses COVID-19 case and vaccination rates Tuesday, April 13, 2021. Screenshot / Chelsey Perkins

Crow Wing and Aitkin counties are keeping pace with the state average for first doses of COVID-19 vaccines, now nearing 50% of the 16-plus population.

Tim Houle, Crow Wing County administrator, told county commissioners Tuesday, April 13, he hopes the rate of vaccination steels against a climb in deaths attributed to the disease caused by the coronavirus as cases continue to rise locally and in the state.

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“It is not done in our community. It is still circulating, it is still making people ill,” Houle said. “ … Death rates follow six to eight weeks down the line. My hope is that there will have been enough vaccinations in that elderly population to not see that this time. That would be a significant positive milestone for us. We have seen the death rate plateau and knock on wood, let’s hope it stays there.”

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More than three-quarters of Crow Wing County’s 65-plus population — 78.4% — have at least one dose thus far, representing about 11,000 seniors. Of those ages 50-64 in the county, 47% received at least one dose as of Sunday.


“We’re making progress on it,” Houle said. “I’m pretty pleased with where we are.”

Not all area counties are performing quite as well at vaccinations, however. Just over one-third of Todd County’s 16-plus population has received at least one dose, with Morrison County reporting 38%. Cass, Wadena and Mille Lacs counties are all in the 40s, but still remain 5-7% below state average.

Meanwhile, case growth in much of the region continues on an upward trend. Another 37 new cases reported Tuesday among Crow Wing County residents puts the total number of new infections over the last 14 days at 461 and the total number recorded since April 2020 at 6,001.

The Brainerd micropolitan area remains on The New York Times’ list of U.S. areas where new reported cases are rising the fastest, on a population-adjusted basis — now in the No. 5 slot of the Top 20 list. It’s no longer the only Minnesota location on the list, however. Faribault-Northfield is right behind Brainerd in the sixth spot, Mankato is eighth, Duluth is 17th and Minneapolis-St. Paul is 18th.

County officials reported the hospitalizations of five more Crow Wing County residents between Friday and Tuesday — continuing a trend of steady hospitalization reports since late March.

RELATED: Essentia Health halts administering Johnson & Johnson vaccine


County facilities

Based on the recommendation by senior management staff, the Crow Wing County Board agreed to reopen most county facilities to public foot traffic on May 17. This date was selected because it’s six weeks out from the most recent vaccination clinic offered to county employees, Houle said.

“I’m pretty content in telling you we have gone as far in our employee population as they want to go,” he said, noting protection of staff was the leadership’s main priority in assessing when to unlock the doors.

In passing a motion in support of that date, board members noted it remains tentative based on case growth in the area over the next month. If May 17 remains the reopening date, that means the public will be able to once again attend county board meetings in person and visit county facilities without an appointment to obtain services. Last month, the board agreed to reopen the land services building to the public, while all other departments continue to offer virtual services, by phone or by appointment in person if needed.

COVID-19 data as of April 13

  • Aitkin — 1,275 (+1 since Monday), with 36 deaths; 6,685 residents have received at least one vaccine dose, representing 49% of the county’s 16-plus population.

  • Cass — 2,450 (+12) with 26 deaths; 9,767 residents with at least one dose, 41%.

  • Crow Wing — 6,001 (+37), with 86 deaths; 23,904 residents with at least one dose, 46%.

  • Mille Lacs — 2,737 (+12), with 48 deaths; 8,833 residents with at least one dose, 43%.

  • Morrison — 3,877 (+14), with 59 deaths; 10,035 residents with at least one dose, 38%.

  • Todd — 2,659 (+1), with 30 deaths; 6,585 residents with at least one dose, 34%.

  • Wadena — 1,413 (+1), with 21 deaths; 4,428 residents with at least one dose, 42%.

NOTE: These numbers are cumulative since March 21, 2020, and many are out of isolation.

Chelsey Perkins is the community editor of the Brainerd Dispatch. A lakes area native, Perkins joined the Dispatch staff in 2014. She is the Crow Wing County government beat reporter and the producer and primary host of the "Brainerd Dispatch Minute" podcast.
Reach her at chelsey.perkins@brainerddispatch.com or at 218-855-5874 and find @DispatchChelsey on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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