BEMIDJI -- More than 300 positive cases of the coronavirus have been recorded in Beltrami County, with numbers surging in the past several weeks.
Beltrami County had its first case reported on March 25 and by mid-June there were 21. The next month is where the numbers began increasing more rapidly. After the Fourth of July weekend there were 30 cases, and by July 28, there were 157.
On Aug. 4, there were just over 200 cases and by Aug. 18 the number had passed 270. As of Friday afternoon, Beltrami County has reported a total of 313 cases since the pandemic reached the area.
According to County Public Health Director Cynthia Borgen, the number of cases actively tracked by the department has ranged from 17 to 40 at a time. As of Friday, Borgen said the agency was tracking 28 cases with one individual hospitalized.
"It's a really broad range of age groups now," Borgen said. "In July, we had a lot of people in the 18-24 year-old age group but now as we look it's been much more evenly spaced."
To date, there have been 91 cases in the 19-24 age group, followed by 50 in the 25-34 age group and 35 in the 35-44 age group. Borgen said a lot of the spread has been in households, meaning it remains important to quarantine when tests are positive.
"Oftentimes, several members of a family will be positive with COVID," Borgen said. "That will continue to be a challenge. If someone in the household has COVID, make sure that everyone does their best to quarantine properly so they don't spread it further."
Regionally, the spread of coronavirus has pushed Beltrami County to have some of the highest numbers in northern Minnesota. Beltrami County only trails Clay County with 856 and St. Louis County with 832. Both Clay and St. Louis Counties are home to larger population centers, as they respectively are part of the Fargo-Moorhead and Duluth-Superior areas.
Beltrami is ahead of nearby Itasca and Polk Counties, though, which have 185 and 194 total cases respectively. Many other northern Minnesota counties have also surpassed 100 cases, or are close to doing so. Crow Wing County has a total of 297, Becker County has reported 189, Cass County has 99 and Koochiching has 87.
Across the state as a whole, there have been 1.4 million cases completed with 73,240 positive cases and 65,204 individuals now out of the isolation phase. Minnesota has reported 1,810 deaths from the coronavirus, including one in Bemidji. Of the coronavirus-related deaths, 1,333 of them were individuals in assisted living or long-term care facilities.
As of Friday, there had been 6,357 reported hospitalizations with 301 currently in medical facilities, 137 of them needing to stay in an ICU room.
With the colder months approaching, Borgen said it's also time for residents to start making plans to guard against the flu.
"We're going to do much more promotion this year for people to get their flu shots," Borgen said. "It's a strategy we know will work so we're really encouraging people to get in and get their flu shots. It will be helpful to reduce the overall number of people with the flu."