BEMIDJI -- The number of coronavirus cases monitored by Beltrami County nearly doubled in the last 10 days, with more than 40 cases now being actively tracked.

On July 10, following the Fourth of July weekend, the county was tracking 22 cases, but by Monday afternoon, the number was in the high 30s and that night, it was announced 41 cases were being monitored. County Health Manager Megan Heuer said it’s a sign that sustained community spread is likely.

“Without knowing the situation of these cases, but knowing the new ones we had last week, what it really tells us is that we have a current community spread and it’s looking to shape up as a sustained community spread,” Heuer said. “We didn’t know at the beginning of last week if we were still seeing a fallout from a social cluster we had identified or if we had community spread. Certainly, in this week, it looks like we’re in a sustained community spread.”

Heuer said the recent increase had been expected for some time.

“We knew it was going to happen,” Heuer said. “We knew we weren’t going to be the lone bubble in Minnesota where this just wouldn’t impact. We just didn’t know when. But we anticipated once things started opening up that there would be an increase.”

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With the rise in cases now occurring, Heuer said residents must be especially cautious.

“It means now more than ever, we have to be extra vigilant about doing the things we’ve been hearing about the last five months,” Heuer said. “Even if people don’t think the virus is going to be something that will negatively impact them, we’re asking people to take a community approach. To do those precautions so we can protect others who are more vulnerable.”

The message was shared last week by Sanford Health officials, who reminded the community to wear face masks, wash hands regularly and limit social activities.

When counting the currently monitored cases along with those who've passed the isolation period, Beltrami County has reached more than 110 confirmed cases since the pandemic reached Minnesota. However, there have been no COVID-19-related deaths.

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