Despite a slow but steady decline in the number of COVID positive tests being reported in St. Louis County through mid-October, public health officials are asking that residents continue to be vigilant.

They are also continuing to offer COVID-19 vaccine appointments and COVID-19 testing opportunities. Vaccines available at these clinics include Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson and Johnson.

Also available are Pfizer boosters for those who are eligible, as well as third doses of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for immunocompromised individuals.

According to the latest information found on the St. Louis County COVID-19 dashboard, the seven-day average of positive tests per 100,000 population St. Louis County is slowly ticking downward even though the overall level remains higher than they were during the spring surge.

“We have seen a drop in our daily case reporting over the last week or so. It’s a positive sign, but too early to call it a trend. We’re definitely watching our numbers,” Amy Westbrook, Public Health Division Director for the county’s PHHS Department said by email Tuesday. “We’re continuing to see outbreaks in school and long term care facilities as well as a test positivity rate higher than 5 percent, which is concerning.”

Westbrook added that health officials are hopeful that St. Louis County numbers will continue to move in the right direction, but note that the 7-day average is still 88.1 cases per day, which equals a weekly case rate in excess of 300 cases per 100,000 residents.

“The CDC defines high transmission as 100 cases per week per 100,000 residents, so we’re still more than triple that,” Westbrook said.

“We’d like to see people continue to mask while in indoor settings, stay home when sick, get tested if showing symptoms, and most importantly get vaccinated if not already,” she said. “For those eligible for boosters, the extra shot is beneficial to boost your immune system and to protect friends, family and neighbors around you.”

So far in October, 83 people have been hospitalized with COVID symptoms in the county, 11 of those in ICU, according to Dashboard figures.

Statewide, the Minnesota Department of Health numbers this week show the average positivity rate is down slightly, 7.4 percent compared to 7.3 percent last week.

Since the start of the pandemic, St. Louis County has seen 23,444 people test positive for COVID-19. There have been 357 COVID related deaths; 1,400 hospitalizations; and 268 people have been admitted to ICU.

The county released a schedule for vaccine appointments via email on Tuesday which includes:

• Today: Shriners Center and Meeting Facility, 5152 Miller Trunk Hwy in Hermantown from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.; and at One Roof Community Housing, 12 East 4th Street in Duluth from 1 to 3 p.m.

• Thursday: Community Action Duluth, 2424 West 5th Street, #102, Duluth, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

• Friday: St. Louis County Government Services Center - Duluth, 320 West 2nd Street; and at the St. Louis County Government Services Center - Virginia, 201 South 3rd Avenue West. Both clinics will be from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Appointments for COVID-19 vaccines are recommended, though walk-ins will be accommodated whenever possible. People can register for an appointment at stlouiscountymn.gov/vaccineregistration

According to the news release, St. Louis County Public Health continues to offer free COVID-19 tests three days per week on the Iron Range. These are Vault saliva tests, and results typically come back in 24-48 hours.

No appointment is needed for these COVID-19 tests.

The schedule is:

• Mondays: 1-5 pm, Eveleth Auditorium, 421 Jackson Street, Eveleth.

• Tuesdays: 8 a.m.-noon, AEOA Parking Lot - 702 S 3rd Avenue, Virginia. People should look for the Public Health Mobile Trailer. This testing site will be moved to the Iron Trail Motors Event Center once the parking lot and sidewalk are paved for improved access.

• Fridays: 1-4 pm, Olcott Park - Lion's Club building, 700 9th Avenue North, Virginia.

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