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Boreal Community Media

Northland counties seeing lowest COVID rates in months

Feb 25, 2022 05:41AM ● By Editor
Photos: KBJR-TV

From Boreal Community Media and KBJR-TV - February 24, 2022

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.

Elsewhere, The Minneapolis and St. Paul mayors announced Thursday morning that they are lifting the mask requirements in both cities effective immediately.  Both mayors signed orders to end the mask mandates that had been put into effect in January. 

The former Minneapolis mandate required masks in areas of public accommodation including any indoor locations such as bars, restaurants, museums, theaters, schools, recreational facilities, retail locations, and service offices. The former St. Paul mandate required masks in businesses licensed by the City of St. Paul. The announcement of the lifted requirement from St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter comes as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to trend downward. 

In both Minneapolis and St. Paul, masks are still required in city buildings and for city employees and visitors to those locations. Individual businesses can still require masks if desired. 

To see the original story and read related reports, follow this link to the KBJR-TV website.

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