Coronavirus

FDA Authorizes 1st COVID-19 Shots For Infants, Preschoolers

(AP) — U.S. regulators on Friday authorized the first COVID-19 shots for infants and preschoolers, paving the way for vaccinations to begin next week. The Food and Drug Administration’s action follows its advisory panel’s unanimous recommendation for the shots from Moderna and Pfizer. That means U.S. kids under 5 — roughly 18 million youngsters — are eligible for the shots,…

Officials: Millions Of COVID-19 Shots Ordered For Youngest

NEW YORK (AP) — Millions of COVID-19 vaccine doses have been ordered for small children in anticipation of possible federal authorization next week, White House officials say. The government allowed pharmacies and states to start placing orders last week, with 5 million doses initially available — half of them shots made by Pfizer and the other half the vaccine produced by Moderna, senior…

Moderna Says Updated COVID Shot Boosts Omicron Protection

(AP) — Moderna’s experimental COVID-19 vaccine that combines its original shot with protection against the omicron variant appears to work, the company announced Wednesday. COVID-19 vaccine makers are studying updated boosters that might be offered in the fall to better protect people against future coronavirus surges. Moderna’s preliminary study results show people given the combination shot experienced a higher boost…

Duluth Requires Masks Again In All City Buildings

DULUTH, Minn. — The City of Duluth has announced they are now requiring masks in city facilities starting Monday, May 23 at 4:30 p.m. Regardless of vaccination status masks are required for everyone. On May 20, the CDC determined St. Louis County’s COVID-19 community level as high. Chief Administrative Officer Noah Schuchman said, “This is not a decision that we…

Pfizer Says 3 COVID Shots Protect Children Under 5

(AP) — Three doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine offer strong protection for children younger than 5, the company announced Monday. Pfizer plans to give the data to U.S. regulators later this week in a step toward letting the littlest kids get the shots. The news comes after months of anxious waiting by parents desperate to vaccinate their babies, toddlers and…

Second Harvest Announces Indoor Mask Requirement

DULUTH, Minn. — Second Harvest Northern Lakes Food Bank is going back to requiring masks indoors for any employee, volunteer, or guest entering its establishment. “Due to St. Louis County’s “high” level of COVID-19 transmission, effective immediately we will be reinstituting our indoor mask requirement for all employees, volunteers and guests for any Second Harvest activities. Please plan to properly…

St. Louis County COVID-19 Community Level Now ‘High’

ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Minn. — St. Louis County announced Friday the COVID-19 Community Level has increased from moderate to high. “Per the CDC, this level is determined based on three factors: new COVID-19 hospital admissions per 100,000 population in the past week, the percent of staffed inpatient beds occupied by COVID-19 patients, and total new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 population…

Masks Now Optional for Duluth ISD 709 Students, Staff

The option of a 10-day mask mandate will be on the table if transmission spikes in district buildings.

DULUTH, Minn.- Masks will now be optional for students and staff in the Duluth Public School District. Superintendent John Magas says as of Thursday covid-19 community levels are low in St. Louis County. Under medium levels, the district would recommend mask-wearing in buildings and on buses, and under high levels, staff and students would have to mask up again. Magas…

CDC to Significantly Ease Pandemic Mask Guidelines Friday

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration will significantly loosen federal mask-wearing guidelines to protect against COVID-19 transmission on Friday, according to two people familiar with the matter, meaning most Americans will no longer be advised to wear masks in indoor public settings. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday will announce a change to the metrics it uses…

St. Luke’s to Close Vaccine Clinic, Will Now Offer Vaccines at Three Other Locations

DULUTH, Minn. – St. Luke’s is closing its COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic after today and will instead offer vaccines at three locations starting next week. Vaccines will be offered at the St. Luke’s Denfeld Medical Clinic (ages 5+), St. Luke’s Infectious Disease Associates (ages 5+), and St. Luke’s Pediatric Associates (ages 5-18). Each of the locations will offer all three vaccines…

UW System to End Mask Mandate by Spring Break

MADISON, Wis. (AP) – University of Wisconsin System officials say they plan to end their campus mask mandates by spring break. UW System President Tommy Thompson announced Wednesday that widespread vaccinations and waning case numbers on system campuses and across the state justify the move. Thompson says vaccines and tests will still be available on campus and students and employees…

Data: Many COVID-19 Patients in December Were Vaccinated

ST. PAUL, Minn. – Minnesota health officials say more than half of state residents who tested positive for COVID-19 in December were vaccinated. The Minnesota Department of Heath breakthrough case data does not indicate if people had received booster shots. Roughly a third of those who were hospitalized for COVID-19 or died during that month also were vaccinated. Health officials…

Delay Ahead for Pfizer’s COVID-19 Vaccine for Kids Under 5

WASHINGTON (AP) – U.S. regulators have put the brakes on their push to speed Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine to children under 5. Friday’s move creates major uncertainty about how soon the shots could become available. The Food and Drug Administration had urged Pfizer to apply before the companies’ study was even finished. The agency cited the toll the omicron variant has…

Itasca County Public Health Warns Residents Are ‘Not Out of the Woods’ Just Yet

GRAND RAPIDS, Minn. – New COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in Itasca County continue to decline, but public health officials warn residents they’re not out of the woods just yet. Kelly Chandler, Division Manager with Itasca County Public Health, says with the spread of the Omicron variant, the county has experienced difficult fall and winter months. Just over 62 percent of…

State Medical Officer: COVID Could Become Endemic in 2022

MADISON, Wis. (AP) – Wisconsin’s top medical officer says COVID-19 could become endemic this year. Department of Health Services Chief Medical Officer Dr. Ryan Westergaard still warned that case counts could periodically spike but the disease likely will reach a stage in 2022 where numbers remain fairly constant. The term endemic is used to describe a disease as a regular…

Moderna’s COVID-19 Vaccine Gets Full FDA Approval

(AP) – Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine has been given full approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, a shot that has been administered to millions of Americans throughout the course of the pandemic. The approval for those aged 18 and up came after the agency reviewed more data on the safety and effectiveness of the Moderna’s shot, marketed as “Spikevax.”…

COVID-19 Booster Drive Is Faltering in the US

(AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File) NEW YORK (AP) – The COVID-19 booster drive in the U.S. is losing steam, worrying health experts who have pleaded with Americans to get an extra shot to shore up their protection against the highly contagious omicron variant. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, just 40% of fully vaccinated Americans have received a…

Pfizer Begins Testing Omicron-Matched COVID Shots in Adults

(AP) – Pfizer and BioNTech have begun studying a COVID-19 vaccine tweaked to match the omicron variant in healthy adults. COVID-19 vaccine makers have been updating their shots in case global health authorities decide a change is needed. The study announced Tuesday will include more than 1,400 volunteers ages 18 to 55. Most already are vaccinated and will get boosters…

Assembly to Vote on Bill Barring Vaccination Discrimination

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The Wisconsin Assembly is set to vote on a Republican-authored bill that would prohibit government entities from creating COVID-19 vaccination passports. The bill’s main Assembly sponsors, Reps. Rob Stafsholt and Scott Krug, say they developed the legislation because they’re worried the Biden administration may mandate such passports. They say the bill would prevent government outreach. The…

COVID-19 Patient at Center of Ventilator Fight Dies in Texas

(courtesy: Fox 9) MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — An unvaccinated COVID-19 patient flown from Minnesota to Texas during a legal battle over whether his ventilator should be turned off died Saturday, the family’s attorney said. A Minnesota judge had issued a restraining order on Jan. 13 blocking Mercy Hospital from turning off the machine that was keeping Scott Quiner alive, after his…

Omicron Wave Leaves US Food Banks Scrambling for Volunteers

WASHINGTON (AP) – Food banks are experiencing a critical shortage of volunteers as the omicron variant frightens people away from group activities. Individual volunteers are shying away from their usual shifts, and companies and schools that regularly supply large groups of volunteers are canceling their participation over virus fears. The end result in many cases has been a serious increase…

Wisconsin Bill Makes New Crime for Vaccine Tampering

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Intentionally damaging vaccines would be a felony in Wisconsin under a bill with bipartisan support that the state Assembly is scheduled to approve Thursday. The measure comes in response to a pharmacist in a Milwaukee suburb spoiling more than 500 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine in January 2021. He pleaded guilty to the federal charges and…

Website for Free Virus Tests Is Here. How Does It Work?

WASHINGTON (AP) — Under criticism after weeks of shortages, President Joe Biden’s administration is working to make COVID-19 rapid test kits more available and accessible to Americans by boosting supply and lowering costs. A new federal website to request free test kits officially launches Wednesday — but was available to use Tuesday — with the first shipments going out to…

Judge Stops Minnesota Hospital From Disconnecting Ventilator

(courtesy: Fox 9) COON RAPIDS, Minn. (AP) – A man who has been suffering from a severe case of COVID-19 and was being kept alive by a ventilator has been moved from a Minnesota hospital to a Texas facility after a judge issued a restraining order stopping the hospital from turning off his machine. Fifty-five-year-old Scott Quiner, of Buffalo, was…

COVID Cases, Staff Shortages Could Shift Duluth Schools to Distance Learning ‘with little notice’

The district considers three key variables as criteria for determining the need to move to distance learning at a single school, an entire level, or for the entire district.

DULUTH, Minn.- As COVID-19 cases continue to climb across the region, officials with Duluth ISD 709 shared the factors needed to keep learning in person, warning that a switch to virtual could happen fast. According to a press release sent out by Superintendent John Magas Friday, experts the district is consulting with forecasted that there will be “significant improvement” to…

Hospitals in Carlton County Meet to ‘Crisis Plan’ as COVID Continues Surging

Crisis planning is to prepare the hospitals, and make a course of action in case they become overwhelmed and have to send patients elsewhere.

CLOQUET, Minn. — Doctors from the Community Memorial Hospital met on Thursday to “crisis plan”, concerned that the latest surge of the Omicron variant might overwhelm medical facilities. Crisis planning is to prepare the hospitals, and make a course of action in case they become overwhelmed and have to send patients elsewhere. But with so many medical facilities bogged down…

St. Luke’s Updates Visitor Policy

DULUTH, Minn. – St. Luke’s is updating its visitor policy once again due to the high community spread of COVID-19. Effective Monday, the hospital will be requiring visitors of inpatients, surgical/procedural care, and the Emergency Department to show proof of vaccination or a negative PCR test within 72 hours of their visit. To view the current visitor policy, click here….

Mayor Larson Announces 30-Day Mask Mandate

DULUTH, Minn. – Duluth Mayor Emily Larson on Thursday announced at a City Hall press conference that she is putting a 30-day mask mandate in place effective Friday at 5:00 p.m. The mask mandate will last through 5:00 p.m. on February 12. “The City has spent the last two days rewriting this proclamation and declaration,” Mayor Emily Larson said. “I…

National Guard to Staff Wisconsin Hospitals, Nursing Homes

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin National Guard troops will help fill staffing shortages at the state’s hospitals and nursing homes over the coming weeks due to a surge in COVID-19 patients, Gov. Tony Evers announced Thursday. The governor said troops are being trained as certified nursing assistants. About 50 soldiers were deployed to six nursing homes during the past week….

Supreme Court Halts COVID-19 Vaccine Rule for US Businesses

WASHINGTON (AP) – The Supreme Court has stopped the Biden administration from enforcing a requirement that employees at large businesses be vaccinated against COVID-19 or undergo weekly testing and wear a mask on the job. At the same time, the court is allowing the administration to proceed with a vaccine mandate for most health care workers in the U.S. The…

Minneapolis Schools Move Instruction Online as Virus Surges

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – Minneapolis Public Schools will pivot to online instruction for two weeks because the coronavirus has significantly reduced the number of school staff available for in-person learning. Virtual education will begin Friday with students returning to the classroom on Jan. 31. Minneapolis joins a growing list of school districts planning to move to distance learning, including Osseo, Prior…

Douglas County Public Health Reports Rapid Rise in New COVID-19 Infections

In the Past 30 Days, 11 Residents Have Been Hospitalized with COVID-19 in Douglas County

SUPERIOR, Wis. – Douglas County Public Health is reporting a steady rise in new COVID-19 cases, with reports coming from PCR and rapid testing. Throughout the month of December, the health department reported 439 cases. In the first two weeks of 2022, the department has reported 349 new cases. Officials say the virus is spreading throughout all ages, however, more…

All Superior Students Required To Mask Up Again Wednesday

According to the Superintendent, going back to masking is the best way to get ahead of the spread and go back to the low transmission they saw from September to December.

SUPERIOR, Wis.- Starting Wednesday, masks are back for everyone in Superior Schools — less than a week after making masks optional when cases were low enough among students and staff. But that’s not the case anymore, and Superintendent Amy Starzecki said this change could happen, basing it all on the numbers. It may seem like a quick turnaround, but Starzecki…

Governor Walz Launches ‘Kids Deserve a Shot’ Vaccine Incentive Program for Kids 5-11

ST. PAUL, Minn. – Governor Walz on Tuesday announced the launch of the next phase of the ‘Kids Deserve a Shot’ vaccine incentive program to encourage Minnesota families to get their kids 5- to 11-years-old fully vaccinated against COVID-19. In a press release from the governor’s office, the Walz-Flanagan Administration said it is committed to providing the resources necessary to…

Pfizer: Omicron-specific COVID-19 Vaccine Human Trials To Begin Late January

(FOX 9) – Pfizer will begin human trials of an omicron-specific COVID-19 vaccine beginning in late January, a company spokesperson confirmed Monday to FOX TV Stations. “We already have begun work on a DNA template tailored to the sequence of Omicron, a critical step in the process of advancing a variant version of our vaccine if in fact, we find…

Home COVID Tests To Be Covered by Insurers Starting Saturday

(AP Photo/David Dermer, File) WASHINGTON (AP) – Starting Saturday, private health insurers will be required to cover up to eight home COVID-19 tests per month for those on their plans. The Biden administration announced the change Monday as it looks to lower costs and makes testing for the virus more convenient amid rising frustrations. Under the new policy, first detailed…

Minnesota Sees Declining COVID-19 Intensive Care Rate

MINNEAPOLIS – Minnesota health officials looking for a silver lining in the spread of the coronavirus omicron variant say they hope it can be found in declining intensive care hospitalizations for COVID-19. That number fell from 374 in mid-December to 255 on Friday. The decline temporarily eases pressure on hospitals as they brace for the wave of omicron infections. Despite…

Council to Vote on New Emergency Mask Mandate Monday

DULUTH, Minn. — A second city wide Duluth mask mandate will be front and center for a vote at Monday night’s first city council meeting of 2022, with a hot topic to start the new year for sure. If Thursday night’s tense agenda session says anything about the mask mandate topic, this proposed emergency declaration isn’t going to be a…

Minnesota Virus Positivity Rate Reaches 15.6% In New Record

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – Minnesota’s COVID-19 positivity rate over the past seven days reached 15.6% on Friday, in an indication of the rapid spread of the omicron variant across the state. State health officials said the figure demonstrates the increasing spread of the omicron variant and expect a new surge of case growth for at least the next month. Minnesota’s previous…

Minnesota Virus Positivity Rate Reaches 15.6% In New Record

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minnesota’s COVID-19 positivity rate over the past seven days reached 15.6% on Friday, emphasizing the rapid spread of the omicron variant across the state. State health officials have said they expect a new surge of case growth for at least the next month. The Star Tribune reported that Minnesota’s previous positivity rate record came early in the…

Hospitalizations Skyrocket in Kids Too Young for COVID Shots

(AP Photo/Steven Senne) (AP) – Hospitalizations in U.S. children under age 5 with COVID have soared dramatically to unprecedented levels, a worrisome trend in youngsters too young to be vaccinated. That’s according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data released Friday. Since early December, as the highly contagious omicron variant has spread furiously around the country, the hospitalization rate…

Duluth City Councilors Have Tense First Debate About New Mask Mandate

DULUTH, Minn. – The mask mandate debate is firing back up in Duluth and being fueled by Councilor Terese Tomanek.  But the push for a mandate was not received well Thursday evening at the agenda session by the majority of the council after some felt surprised by the topic, which wasn’t on the list of items to discuss ahead of…

Grammys Postpone Ceremony, Citing Omicron Variant Risks

LOS ANGELES (AP) – The upcoming Grammy Awards have been postponed due to what organizers called “too many risks” from the omicron variant. The ceremony had been scheduled for Jan. 31st in Los Angeles with a live audience and performances. The Recording Academy said Wednesday it made the decision “after careful consideration and analysis with city and state officials, health…