VIRGINIA — St. Louis County reported a record number of coronavirus cases Friday with 73 newly confirmed COVID-19 patients. Two Iron Range long-term care facilities were also added to the state’s list of providers with 10 or more cases in the last 28 days.
The 73 cases reported Friday top the previous record of 50 cases reported in a 24-hour span, which was set last week. No new deaths were reported Friday, but the county had two deaths on Thursday, bringing the toll to 39 St. Louis County residents lost to the virus.
The newest batch of cases included people ages 5 to 100. Only 18 of the 73 involved long-term care residents, with another 19 cases in the 18-24 year old age range.
About 356 cases remained active in the region as of Friday and 1,554 total cases have been reported since March. Nine of the 10 deaths reported in the county last week resided in long-term care facilities.
Six long-term care facilities across the Iron Range have what the state considers a notable outbreak — 10 or more in the last 28 days. Those are: Boundary Waters Care Center in Ely, Carefree Living in Ely, Guardian Angels Health and Rehabilitation Center in Hibbing, Heritage Manor in Chisholm, The Waterview Woods in Eveleth and The Waterview Pines in Virginia.
"As we look at the data, we see two particularly troubling trends," said Public Health Division Director Amy Westbrook, in a press release. "There is an increase in outbreaks in long term care facilities, and as many people know by now, it is our older populations that are most likely to suffer severe effects from this virus. But additionally, we continue to see a large number of cases linked to college-age students."
The county said 88 total cases, about 14 percent of the September total, are connected to the University of Minnesota-Duluth and 97 percent of those cases are linked to private residences and not dormitories.
"It's certainly not surprising that UMD would make up the majority of cases in this age group, since it is the largest college in the region," Westbrook said. "But we need all young people to follow the recommended guidelines of social distancing, wearing masks when unable to maintain six feet of distance, and staying home when sick."
St. Louis County officials noted the increase in cases is not linked to more testing from the new saliva testing site opened at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center on Wednesday.
Minnesota Department of Health officials recorded 1,191 new COVID-19 cases across the state Friday on a high testing level of 25,718 diagnostic tests. In total, the state has registered 94,189 coronavirus cases and 1,994 deaths, which rose by six on Friday, while 394 patients were removed from isolation.
The death toll continues to hit long-term care facilities the hardest. To date, 1,438 of the 1,994 deaths have occurred in those settings.