Virus linked to COVID-19 found at four Duluth beaches

Ryan Juntti
Updated: September 29, 2020 10:34 PM

Researchers at the University of Minnesota Medical School, Duluth have found the virus that causes COVID-19 at four Duluth beaches.


On the weekends of September 11 and September 18, a "detectable" level of the virus was found at 13th St. Beach/Franklin Park on Park Point, Leif Erikson Park, 42nd Avenue Beach and Brighton Beach.  

Despite the findings, Dr. Richard Melvin, who is leading the study, says people don't need to worry, as he says the virus likely would not survive in lake water.

"People don't need to fear the water, or fear fish that they take out of the water. What it really speaks to is a presence of the SARS virus in the community, and when you have a large community of people, they often affect the environment around them," said Melvin.

At this time, the source or sources of the virus are unknown, but Melvin says it is difficult to know whether Labor Day activity had any bearing on it.

"There's a lot of activity on Lake Superior. There's a lot of activity in Duluth, and we're in a time when the virus is present in our community, so it's really impossible to point a finger in any direction other than at people being here," said Melvin.   

The CDC is also not aware of any scientific reports that indicate the virus can spread to people through exposure to lake water.  

In July, the University of Minnesota Medical School partnered with Minnesota Sea Grant to test the surface water at eight beaches in Duluth for the presence of SARS-CoV-2, the virus causing COVID-19.

Researchers and public health professionals continue to strongly advise beachgoers to continue social distancing and wear face masks to reduce the risk of infection and spread of the virus.


Ryan Juntti

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