COVID infections spreading quickly in Itasca County

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Health officials in Itasca County say COVID-19 infections are spreading quickly among those not yet vaccinated in the county. According to a report, over 200 residents have been diagnosed with COVID-19 over the last two weeks.

Officials say the most current 14-day case rate per 10,000 residents is 43.7, up significantly from last week of 39.2 and from early July, when the rate was less than one.

"What we do know is that the Delta variant is here. And one of the unique things we’re seeing, is that if one person gets infected, we’re now seeing the entire family test positive. It’s very spreadable," Dr. Dan Soular said. He’s from Grand Itasca Clinic and Hospital.

Kelly Chandler, Department Manager of Itasca County Public Health, said, "What we’re learning is that the presentation (of Delta) is more of a headache, sore throat, and runny nose, rather than the loss of taste and smell."

They are urging testing, vaccinations, and social distancing again.

If you had doubts before about vaccinations, that’s Ok! They are ready to address your concerns. "The fun part of our day is discussion vaccinations. We have science behind us. Not a lot in medicine is 99% effective," Soular added.

Pregnant women are encouraged to get the vaccine, as doctors say the studies show being pregnant an lead to higher risks of complications.

“Our hospital has been full more often than not lately. We’re seeing an increase in patients overall, including a recent significant increase in patients with COVID. The same is true for the hospitals that we typically transfer patients to as well, which creates a backlog of patients while we try to find them a bed.” Jean MacDonell, President/CEO of Grand Itasca Clinic & Hospital said in a press release.

RELATED: Full Itasca County Press Conference

MacDonell says the public needs to continue to take these things seriously. “We are continuing to encourage masking when in public including in schools, getting vaccinated and getting tested after exposure or when experiencing symptoms,” MacDonell said.

Health officials say the rising case rates show in northern Itasca County, where spiking COVID rates have forced Bigfork schools to temporarily enforce masking for all students. Each area school has a mitigation plan based on COVID spread in their community, which can be found at their websites.

Officials say of the vaccinated in Itasca County, less than one percent (.86 percent) since March 2021 have tested positive for COVID. None of these cases have been fatal. Officials say 58% of those 12 and older in the county have received at least one dose of vaccine.