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New cases in lakes area continuing to escalate

The deaths of two more area residents were among those recently attributed to COVID-19, including the 100th death recorded among Crow Wing residents — a man in his 70s. A Cass County resident age 70-74 also died, according to the health department.

FSA coronavirus CDC
Special to The Forum

With 126 new cases of COVID-19 recorded last week in Crow Wing County and this week on pace to match or exceed that figure, spread of the disease caused by the coronavirus in the region continues to escalate.

As of Tuesday, Aug. 24, 51 new cases arose among Crow Wing residents since Friday, about one-quarter of the 192 total cases reported during the same period among the seven regional counties also including Aitkin, Cass, Mille Lacs, Morrison, Todd and Wadena. All of those counties except Morrison were considered to be experiencing high community transmission by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, meaning masks are recommended for everyone including the vaccinated, particularly in crowded indoor or outdoor settings.

The deaths of two more area residents were among those recently attributed to COVID-19, including the 100th death recorded among Crow Wing residents — a man in his 70s. A Cass County resident age 70-74 also died, according to the health department.

During Tuesday’s county board meeting, County Administrator Tim Houle said the escalating numbers are becoming concerning to him and other senior leaders. This has led to discussions surrounding whether there will again be a mask requirement imposed on county employees, with the potential for that to hinge on one’s vaccination status, Houle noted. He told the board to expect a request for board action sometime in the near future related to these topics.

While spread is a concern, Houle noted Crow Wing is performing better than many of its rural counterparts in terms of vaccination rates, now sporting a 60% vaccination rate for those ages 16 and older. The Minnesota Department of Health currently pegs Crow Wing at 59% on its vaccine data tracker, although that data reflects information as of two days earlier and counties often have more up-to-date data available.

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“Would I like it to be 100%? Yes, I would,” Houle said, who noted a recent trip to North Carolina where the vaccination rate was 43%. “But 60 is better than in many places.”

Other counties in the region with similar vaccination rates are Cass and Aitkin counties, while Mille Lacs, Morrison, Todd and Wadena lag in comparison with rates in the high 40s or early 50s.

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