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PANDEMIC RESPITE: Northland counties seeing lowest COVID rates in months

Published: Feb. 23, 2022 at 9:34 PM CST
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DULUTH, MN. (KBJR 6) --After dealing with surges from the Delta and Omicron variants, the Northland is experiencing its lowest seven-day COVID case average in months.

St. Louis County saw 9,758 cases of COVID-19 in January, while so far in February, there have only been 2,020 cases.

“It was most likely the Omicron variant kind of sweeping through our population,” said Amy Westbrook, St. Louis County Director of Public Health. “We know that it was much more transmissible, we were seeing a lot of cases in a short amount of time.”

Bayfield County experienced a spike in cases as well.

“I firmly believe that the Omicron variant was here and that it was just a high transmission rate,” said Sara Wartman, Bayfield County Director of Public Health.

Now, both St. Louis County and Bayfield County are seeing case rates decline.

“Our numbers of COVID-19, they’re going in the right direction for sure, which is really great to see,” said Westbrook.

The hospitalization rates in both counties are also declining, which experts say indicates severe illness from COVID is less prominent.

“Our hospitalizations statewide and locally are now at the level of when school started in September, and I think that’s really reassuring,” Wartman said.

Despite the good news, both Westbrook and Wartman said the pandemic is not over.

“It’s not going away. We’re certainly in a better place than we were five or six weeks ago, but it’s likely we’ll continue to see some peaks and valleys,” Westbrook said.

Wartman said COVID-19 is likely something that will persist.

“Just like with seasonal influenza, and other things, I think we’ll see ups and downs. I think COVID is here to stay,” Wartman said.

Bayfield County is currently seeing about 50 cases a week compared to 150 to 200 in January.

Both counties still encourage masking in large public spaces.

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