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Minnesota sees surge in COVID cases ahead of Thanksgiving

Published: Nov. 16, 2021 at 6:59 PM CST
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ITASCA COUNTY, MN. (CBS 3 Duluth) - Minnesota recorded the highest level of new COVID cases in the country last week, just ahead of the Thanksgiving Holiday.

The surge in cases is more apparent than ever in Itasca County, where ICUs are at full capacity.

“The situation in Itasca County is at its worst we’ve seen the entire pandemic,” said Kelly Chandler, with Itasca County Public Health.

The county currently has a 20 percent covid test positivity rate compared to just 5 percent last year.

“Our new case rate going into Thanksgiving last year was high, we’re already well surpassing that,” Chandler said.

Last year around the holidays, cases spiked and rose nationwide from Thanksgiving to mid-January.

This year, experts said there’s less social distancing and mask-wearing, and they’re worried a similar trend could be right around the corner.

A similar surge in the coming months could push hospitals in Itasca County and the rest of the state to the brink.

“Our fear is that somebody has a heart attack, has a stroke, has COVID that they need extra care for and that they’re not going to receive it in a timely enough manner,” said Chandler.

Statewide, ICU capacity is at just 95%.

Dr. Peter Henry, Chief Medical Officer of Essentia Health said this holiday season, even vaccinated individuals may need to be mindful of social distancing measures.

“When you see this high a level of community transmission, case positivity rates in your community, it makes sense that you want to limit your travel and where you can and where its appropriate continue to wear a mask,” Henry said.

Tuesday, Minnesota announced plans to make booster vaccinations available for all adults ahead of FDA or CDC authorization.

Health officials are cautiously optimistic boosters could help combat waning immunity and prevent breakthrough cases among the vaccinated population.

For more information about COVID in your area click here.

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