DULUTH — Cases of coronavirus in Itasca County have doubled in the past month, causing health experts to call the spread of COVID-19 in the county “uncontrolled.”

People attending unsafe formal and informal social gatherings are largely responsible for the increase, said Kelly Chandler, the county’s public health division manager.

In a response to the growing cases, the county said that every person must do their part if they want schools to remain open and keep people employed.

“We made the intentional decision to be more frank with our messages (because) we are at a very critical point,” Chandler said.

As of Thursday, Oct. 8, 506 people have tested positive for coronavirus in Itasca County — a figure that’s double the number of cases from mid-September. Sixteen people have also died in the county due to the pandemic.

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Although the Grand Rapids Senior High School was recently added to the state’s list of schools with exposures, spread among students and staff has been minimal, Chandler said.

For a school to be on the list, it must have five or more cases among students and staff. Chandler was unable to confirm the number of cases in the school Thursday.

“This is a call-out to all the adults in our community, and we mean every adult. Do your part,” she said.

Don’t attend or host social gatherings where masks aren’t worn and social distancing can’t be practiced, Chandler said. She added that people should always wear a mask when in public.

“If we want our kids in school, if we want our kids playing sports, whatever your motivation is, please don't participate in unsafe gatherings. Wear your mask (and) stay 6 feet away from people," Chandler said. “This is a call out to everybody.”

By the numbers

Here are the COVID-19 numbers for Minnesota, reported Friday, Oct. 9:

  • New cases reported: 1,390
  • Total cases: 109,312
  • New deaths: 14
  • Total deaths: 2,121
  • No longer in insolation: 97,715
  • Total hospitalized: 8,251
  • Total ICU cases: 2,267
  • New tests: 31,971
  • Total tests: 2,256,165

— Forum News Service