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The COVID-19 positivity rate for Morrison County residents has more than doubled in the past two weeks.

On Sept. 15, about 6.28% of the people getting tested for the virus were receiving positive results. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), that number was 13.09% on Sept. 29.

That has coincided with a rapid rise in overall cases. During the past week, 157 Morrison County residents tested positive for COVID-19, 59 more than the 98 recorded between Sept. 17 - 23. In the three weeks since the positive rate started to increase, there have been a total of 344 reported cases — a 21-day average of about 16 per day. That brings the overall number since the start of the pandemic to 4,912 infections.

As of Thursday, Morrison County had 235 active cases — up from 154 on Sept. 23 — and a case rate of 71 infections per 10,000 people, an increase from 46.5 one week earlier.

Of those 235 active cases, 106 were in people with Little Falls ZIP codes, according to Morrison County Public Health. There were 32 Royalton residents who were positive, along with 29 from Pierz and 13 from Swanville, Randall and Hillman.

The rise in cases has not, however, led to an overall increase of hospitalizations or deaths. Just one of the 157 people infected between Sept. 24 - 30 was admitted to the hospital, and there were no deaths recorded for the second straight week. In all, Morrison County has seen 63 deaths and 276 hospitalizations over the past 18 months.

Vaccinations within the county have also slowed to a crawl, according to the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH).

Only 47 people got the shot between Sept. 22 - 28, a sharp decline from 87 the week before. In all, 13,878 Morrison County residents have received at least one dose, about 51.8% of the adult population. That percentage is the seventh lowest in the state, according to MDH, and includes 47.8% of adults — 13,161 — who are fully vaccinated.

Morrison County also had its first K-12 school listed since classes resumed on MDH’s list of known districts with active COVID-19 cases. Little Falls Community High School was added to the list, as was Long Prairie - Grey Eagle High School in Todd County. Two congregate living facilities — Little Falls Health Services Care Center and St. Otto’s Care Center — are also listed as having known infections by MDH.

The overall case and death counts rose at both the state and federal levels, as well, during the past week.

In Minnesota, MDH reported 16,774 new cases between Sept. 24 - 30; 2,396 per day — a daily average of 204 more infections than the previous week. The number of new cases is also up a little more than 1,400 from Sept. 16 - 23. A total of 711,094 Minnesotans have been infected since March 6, 2020.

According to the CDC, all but one county in Minnesota — Cook County in the arrowhead — has high community spread.

Those numbers were also reflected in what the CDC is reporting nationwide, though the number of new cases did actually go down a little.

There were 805,872 new cases between Sept. 23 - 29, down from 937,526 the week prior.

However, deaths went up dramatically over the past week. Of the 691,517 total Americans who have died throughout the pandemic, 14,431 lost their lives during the past week. That is an average of 2,062 per day.

To put that in perspective, 2,996 people died in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States.

Overall, 77.2% of Americans have received at least one dose of the vaccine, according to the CDC. Community spread is high in 49 of the 50 United States, with California being the lone exception.

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