BEMIDJI -- Beltrami County Public Health is shifting its focus from tracking coronavirus cases to ensuring the population gets fully vaccinated.

On Friday, Beltrami County Public Health Director Cynthia Borgen said both the local department and the Minnesota Department of Health are beginning a demobilization process. This week, public health held its last COVID response team meeting, as it reduces its efforts.

"A lot of our regular meetings over the last several months have been decreasing," Borgen said. "We're really centered on the vaccinating piece now, that's an active part of our work."

Borgen said case numbers have been steadily declining, and the department has been usually tracking less than 10 active cases regularly.

The pandemic hit Minnesota in March 2020 and Beltrami County had its first patient later that month. Since then, the state has recorded 603,466 cases and 32,361 hospitalizations, with 594,311 having moved out of the isolation period of the illness.

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Locally, Beltrami County has recorded 4,067 cases of COVID-19. Across the state, 7,496 Minnesotans have died from COVID, while Beltrami County has recorded 60 deaths.

To continue the positive trend of cases slowing down, Borgen and Beltrami County Family Health Manager Megan Heuer said getting vaccinated is essential.

"The virus is still here and it's hitting those who don't have protection," Heuer said. "We don't want the appearance to be that the virus has left."

"If you're vaccinated, you can live your life as you want," Borgen said. "The vaccine is continuing to demonstrate that it is as effective as it was promised. For those who are unvaccinated, there still is a significant risk. Our message is, 'get a vaccine.' We've seen that it's really effective and it's what helped us turn the corner in the United States."

In Minnesota, 2.9 million residents have received one dose and 2.7 million are fully vaccinated. Locally, 20,556 have been given one dose and 18,776 are fully vaccinated.

By age groups, the full vaccination levels are as follows:

  • Ages 12-15, 116 in Beltrami County, 35,745 in Minnesota.
  • Ages 16-17, 298 in Beltrami County, 53,626 in Minnesota.
  • Ages 18-49, 7,269 in Beltrami County, 1.14 million in Minnesota.
  • Ages 50-64, 4,850 in Beltrami County, 726,859 in Minnesota.
  • Ages 65 and older, 6,243 in Beltrami County, 751,635 in Minnesota.

Minnesota has an estimated population of 5.7 million and Beltrami County is home to more than 47,000 residents.

Stay up to date with local vaccination efforts by visiting the Vaccine Tracker on the homepage of the Bemidji Pioneer website.