Coronavirus

Northland Health Experts Warn of ‘Severe’ Flu Season to Come, On Top of Pandemic

The shadow looming over all this, according to experts, is the stress healthcare systems nationwide are already under.

DULUTH, Minn.- According to Northland health experts, the outlook for this year’s flu season is not good, as they prepare for a one-two punch of the flu and the ongoing COVID-19 surge. “A lot of people are back out doing their normal activities, we’re not in quarantine so those factors will play a role in what could be a severe…

New COVID Testing Options Offered on the Iron Range

VIRGINIA, Minn. – New COVID-19 testing options are available on the Iron Range starting this week. St. Louis County Public Health along with the Minnesota Department of Health has increased the availability of walk-in saliva tests in Eveleth and Virginia. Free saliva tests are now available on the following days at the following locations, and will continue until further notice:…

UMD Student Sues The University of Minnesota Over Vaccine Mandate

DULUTH, Minn. – A University of Minnesota Duluth student has filed a lawsuit against the University of Minnesota System over its COVID-19 vaccine mandate. According to court documents, the lawsuit, filed Wednesday, names the President of the University of Minnesota Joan Gabel, the U of M Board of Regents, and all five of the University of Minnesota campuses as defending…

Minnesota Health Care Workers Sue to Block Vaccine Mandate

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Nearly 200 Minnesota health workers are suing their employers to block a pending requirement that they are vaccinated against COVID-19 or risk getting fired. The lawsuit was filed in federal court late Monday against federal officials and about 20 providers that operate hospitals and clinics across Minnesota. It contends the lack of alternatives to vaccination infringes on…

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases Top 700k; ICU Cases Dip to 197

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) – Minnesota’s total number of confirmed coronavirus cases has topped the 700,000 mark, while the number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care at Minnesota hospitals fell below 200 for the first time in two weeks. The Minnesota Department of Health on Tuesday reported 6,203 new cases to raise the state’s total to 706,158 laboratory-confirmed cases. The…

St. Luke’s Employees Booster Up; Eligible Public Starts Tuesday

People over 65, adults with certain underlying medical health conditions, and those who work in environments with increased risk of COVID-19 are eligible for booster shots.

DULUTH, Minn.- Pfizer booster shots have begun going into the arms of healthcare workers in the Northland, as eligible members of the public start getting those shots Tuesday. “I think it’s really a great step, it’s gonna help with everything that’s coming this winter and it’s just gonna help keep our community that much safer,” said Kelly Zapp, St. Luke’s…

St. Luke’s To Offer COVID-19 Vaccine Booster Doses to Those Eligible

DULUTH, Minn. – St. Luke’s will start offering COVID-19 vaccine booster doses for those eligible beginning next week. The hospital says the vaccines will be given at the St. Luke’s COVID-19 Clinic by appointment only. Appointments are available to schedule via the myCare patient portal or by calling the Vaccine Clinic at 218-249-4200. The CDC’s recent recommendations for COVID-19 boosters…

US Sets the Stage for COVID Booster Shots for Millions

(AP) – The U.S. vaccination drive against COVID-19 stands on the verge of a major new phase: Government advisers on Thursday recommended booster doses of Pfizer’s vaccine for millions of Americans. This, despite concern among some experts that the extra shots will do little to slow the pandemic. The advisory panel to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended…

Few COVID-19 Vaccinated Patients Need Intensive Care

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Fully vaccinated people make up a minority of COVID-19 hospitalizations and an even lower number of people needing intensive care and ventilators, current data from two large hospital systems in the Upper Midwest shows. Minneapolis-based Allina Health reported 176 patients were hospitalized with COVID-19 this week and that 22% are vaccinated against the coronavirus. Sanford Health, based…

Vaccination Rates Vary Widely on UW-System Campuses

UW-System Promotes Scholarship Drawing Aimed at Boosting Vaccination Rates Among Students

MADISON, Wis. (AP) – University of Wisconsin officials say student vaccination rates for COVID-19 vary widely among the system’s campuses. At the Madison campus, 91% of students are fully vaccinated, the highest number among the system’s universities. The lowest number of vaccinated students are at UW-Parkside where 38% have been inoculated. Other campuses range from 75% at La Crosse to…

Biden Easing Restrictions for Foreign Travel, Requiring Vaccines

U.S. Foreign Travel Restrictions will Begin to Ease in November

WASHINGTON (AP) – The White House says President Joe Biden will ease foreign travel restrictions into the U.S. beginning in November and allow foreign nationals into the country if they have proof of vaccination and a negative COVID-19 test. The new rules replace a hodgepodge of restrictions that had barred non-citizens who had been in certain countries in the prior…

Pfizer: COVID-19 Vaccine Works in Children Ages 5 to 11

The Vaccine Maker Plans to Seek Authorization in U.S., Britain, and Europe

(Associated Press) – Pfizer says its COVID-19 vaccine works for children ages 5 to 11. The vaccine maker said Monday it plans to seek authorization for this age group soon in the U.S., Britain, and Europe. The vaccine made by Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech already is available for anyone 12 and older. But many parents are anxiously awaiting…

ISD #381 to Require Masks for All Elementary Students Starting Monday, Sept. 20

The Requirement Comes Amid a Spike in COVID-19 Cases in Lake County

TWO HARBORS, Minn. – Starting Monday, Sept. 20, masks will be required for elementary students in Lake Superior School District #381. This includes schools elementary grades in Two Harbors and Silver Bay. The district’s superintendent says due to an increase in new COVID-19 cases in the county, their only option was to make masks a requirement for elementary grades due…

FDA Advisory Panel Rejects Widespread Pfizer Booster Shots

WASHINGTON (AP) – An influential federal advisory panel has rejected a plan to offer Pfizer booster shots against COVID-19 to most Americans. The vote Friday, 16-2, was a blow to the Biden administration’s plan to shore up people’s protection against the virus amid the highly contagious delta variant. Over several hours of discussion, members of the Food and Drug Administration…

Itasca County Health Officials Concerned as Delta Variant Spreads

Vaccination Rates Continue to Climb, but Health Officials Say More Work Needs to be Done

ITASCA COUNTY, Minn. – Health officials in Itasca County are looking to get ahead of the spread as the Delta variant of COVID-19 is being passed through community transmission. “We have to get back to basics. Everyone is tired of COVID and no one wants to be doing this anymore, but we do know what works,” said Kayla Scrivner, COO…

COVID Concerns Forcing Chisholm’s K-3rd Graders Back To Distance Learning

CHISHOLM, Minn. – An “increasing” number of COVID cases is forcing some elementary grades in the Chisholm School District to learn from home for at least the next two weeks. The changes are affecting K-3rd graders at Vaughan Steffensrud Elementary School, according to Adrian Norman, the district’s superintendent. Norman confirms St. Louis County health officials raised the alarm about the…

Shortage on ICU Beds in Twin Cities Has Ripple Effect on Rural Minnesota

(FOX 9) – As more hospital ICU beds fill up in the metro, it’s having a ripple effect on patient care in rural hospitals. Rural healthcare staff says they are scrambling to get patients in critical care the help they need fast enough because the resources are just not there. “Rural hospitals are designed for primary care and general surgery….

Evers Announces COVID Testing Requirement for State Workers

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Gov. Tony Evers’ administration issued an order Tuesday requiring all executive branch workers who haven’t submitted their COVID-19 vaccination status to their supervisors or aren’t fully vaccinated to undergo weekly testing. The mandate will go into effect on Oct. 18 and apply to all executive branch employees, interns, and contractors. Nearly 70% of the executive branch’s…

Minnesota Schools See Slight Bump in Weekly Virus Cases

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – Minnesota schools are seeing increases in weekly coronavirus cases as students return to classrooms across the state. More than 100 facilities from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade reported infections last week. That’s according to a weekly COVID-19 report released by the Minnesota Department of Health on Thursday. The figure is up from previous weeks but remains a fraction…

United Airlines Lays Out Vaccination Rules for Employees

Airline's 67,000 employees have until Sept. 27 to get vaccinated

(AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File) (FOX Business) – United Airlines says that more than half its employees who weren’t vaccinated last month have gotten their shots since the company announced that vaccines would be required. The airline’s 67,000 U.S.-based employees face a Sept. 27 deadline for getting vaccinated. United said Wednesday, however, that employees whose bids for exemptions based on…

Duluth ISD 709 Elementary Students Start School Year In-Person with Smiles, Masks on Faces

Face coverings are required in school and on the bus at Homecroft.

DULUTH, Minn.- The energy was high among the 1st through 5th graders after the first full day back at Homecroft Elementary, just one of many schools in the Northland opening up for the school year. “You can see it in their eyes even though we’ve got masks on most of the time that smile is there, the laughter is there,”…

Evers Extends $100 Incentive for COVID-19 Vaccinations

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin’s $100 reward program for those receiving the COVID-19 vaccine will be extended two weeks until Sept. 19, Gov. Tony Evers announced Friday. Extending the incentive, which began Aug. 20 and was originally scheduled to end on Monday, will give an opportunity for even more people to get vaccinated, Evers said. Between Aug. 20 and Sept….

Bayfield County Health Department Issues Mask Advisory

BAYFIELD COUNTY, Wis. – The Bayfield County Health Department has issued an advisory to residents and visitors recommending face mask use in indoor public settings. Health officials say the advisory is being issued due to an increase in COVID cases in the community. The Bayfield County Health Department says it is also strongly advising Bayfield County schools to require the…

Another Republican Says Don’t Sue UW Over COVID Policies

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A second Republican legislator says he doesn’t support suing the University of Wisconsin System over its COVID-19 protocols. Sen. Steve Nass, the co-chair of the Legislature’s rules committee, has threatened to sue system officials if they don’t submit their COVID-19 plans to the committee for approval by Thursday. System President Tommy Thompson has refused to capitulate,…

Split Rock Lighthouse to Require Masks Indoors Starting Today

DULUTH, Minn. – Split Rock Lighthouse announced on its Facebook page Tuesday, along with the Minnesota Historical Society, that face masks will be required indoors beginning September 1. MNHS says the decision was made to reinstate the mask mandate, regardless of vaccination status, due to an increase in COVID-19 cases in the state. “According to the Centers for Disease Control…

Northland Hospitals Near Capacity as COVID Cases Surge, Vaccination Rate Lags

There were 273 new cases in the County last week, and St. Mary's Hospital saw the number of patients with severe COVID cases double over the past two weeks.

DULUTH, Minn.- Local health leaders say the Delta Variant is beginning to overwhelm their systems just like last year. Now it’s being fueled by the amount of people in the region who refuse to get vaccinated, as healthcare workers begin to burn out — continuing to fight the virus for far longer than they anticipated last year. “We were moving…

Minnesota Reopens Free Testing Sites As Delta Variant Surges

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minnesota officials are reopening four free coronavirus testing sites this week as circulation of the highly contagious delta variant renews demand for testing. The reopened sites include the Roy Wilkins Auditorium in St. Paul and a former Department of Motor Vehicles building in Bloomington, augmenting existing metro area sites in Brooklyn Park and at the Minneapolis-St. Paul…

Albert Lea Quarantines Nearly 300 Students for COVID-19 in First Week of School

ALBERT LEA, Minn. (FOX 9) – Nearly 300 Albert Lea students have been quarantined for exposure to COVID-19 after the first week of school, prompting changes to the school district’s face mask requirements. Albert Lea Area Schools Superintendent Mike Funk shared an update with families Thursday, stating the virus has “significantly disrupted” the start of school. After five days of…

Delta Will Charge Unvaccinated Employees $200 per Month

(AP Photo/David Goldman) (AP) -Delta Air Lines will charge employees on the company health plan $200 a month if they fail to get vaccinated against COVID-19, a policy the airline’s top executive says is necessary because the average hospital stay for the virus costs the airline $40,000. CEO Ed Bastian said that all employees who have been hospitalized for the…

Duluth School Dist. To Mask Up For Full In-Person Learning

DULUTH, Minn. – The Duluth School District confirmed its back-to-school plans Tuesday evening that include students learning in-person five days a week and students 2 and older wearing masks. The mask requirement also includes all school employees and guests. The confirmation came as district officials updated the ISD 709 Safe Learning Plan. Supt. John Magas said he’s following the guidance…

University of Minnesota Mandates COVID-19 Vaccinations

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The University of Minnesota will require all students to get vaccinated against COVID-19. President Joan Gabel and Jakub Tolar, dean of the university medical school, issued a news release Monday hours after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration fully approved the Pfizer version of the vaccine saying shots will be mandatory and students will receive an email…

US Regulators Give Full Approval to Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine

WASHINGTON (AP) – The U.S. has given full approval to the COVID-19 vaccine made by Pfizer. The Food and Drug Administration’s decision on Monday may help lift public confidence in vaccinations as the nation battles the most contagious coronavirus mutant yet. The FDA has never before had so much evidence to judge a shot’s safety. More than 200 million doses…

Itasca County K-12 Schools ‘Strongly Recommending’ Masks this Year

Itasca County has seen 45 new positive cases in the last 7 days, according to health officials.

GRAND RAPIDS, Minn.- Many K thru 12 schools in Itasca County are now strongly recommending students mask up for the school year, as the County deals with the highest level of community transmission of any Northeastern Minnesota county. Itasca County has seen 45 new positive cases in the last 7 days, according to health officials. School leaders say they can…

Wisconsin’s COVID-19 Breakthrough Cases More Than Double

MADISON, Wis. (AP) – The number of fully vaccinated people in Wisconsin who tested positive for COVID-19 and were hospitalized more than doubled from February to July. But Wisconsin Department of Health Services data released Thursday shows the more contagious delta variant was still an exponentially greater threat to the unvaccinated during those months. The unvaccinated were three times as…

Source: Biden to Require Vaccines for Nursing Home Staff

WASHINGTON (AP) – The Biden administration will require that nursing home staff are vaccinated against COVID-19 as a condition for those facilities to continue receiving federal Medicare and Medicaid funding. Biden will announce the move Wednesday afternoon in a White House address as the administration continues to look for ways to use mandates to encourage vaccine holdouts to get shots….

Superior School Board Votes to Require Masks for Elementary Students

SUPERIOR, Wis. – On Monday, the Superior School Board voted to require masks for elementary students for the upcoming school year. Additionally, all students and staff will be required to wear a mask while using Superior public transportation. During Monday night’s meeting, the school board said they also recommend the use of school cafeterias again. Current CDC guidelines recommend universal…

US to Recommend COVID Vaccine Boosters at 8 Months

WASHINGTON (AP) – U.S. experts are expected to recommend COVID-19 vaccine boosters for all Americans, regardless of age, eight months after they received their second dose of the shot. The goal is to ensure lasting protection against the coronavirus as the delta variant spreads across the country. That’s according to two people familiar with the matter who spoke to The…

Minnesota Extends $100 Vaccine Incentives for Another Week

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) – Minnesota has extended its $100 reward program for people who get their COVID-19 vaccinations by another week. Any Minnesotan age 12 or older who gets their first shot through Sunday can claim a $100 Visa gift card at mn.gov/covid19/100. Gov. Tim Walz announced the extension Sunday night, calling the incentive program a success. According to…

Zeitgeist’s Renegade Theater Company to Require Proof of Vaccination or Negative COVID Test to Attend Shows

According to Zeitgeist, all casts and crew and staff are fully vaccinated. Capacity at Renegade Theater shows will also be reduced from 120 seats to 88.

DULUTH, Minn.- A staple of Duluth’s theater scene prepares its comeback after 18 months dark with a stronger step to curb the spike in COVID cases in the Northland. Vaccines, or a negative COVID test will be required for audience members hoping to catch a Renegade Theater Company show at Zeitgeist’s Teatro Zuccone. The Company announced that in addition to…

FDA Authorizes Additional Vaccine Doses for Some Immunocompromised People

The Authorization Would Impact Roughly Three Percent of the U.S. Population

DULUTH, Minn. – Those with organ transplants, a cancer diagnosis, or an immune disorder could be the first people to receive a third shot of the COVID-19 vaccine. This, after U.S. health regulators have authorized an extra dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines in people with weakened immune systems to better protect them from the virus. “After two shots,…

U of M Board of Regents Endorses COVID-19 Vaccine Requirement, Pending FDA Approval

MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) – The University of Minnesota Board of Regents approved the decision to require students to get the COVID-19 vaccine, pending the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s approval. U of M President Joan Gabel made the announcement earlier this week. More details on the timing of the COVID-19 vaccine requirement will be released at a later time. Medical…

Extra COVID Vaccine OK’D for Those With Weak Immune Systems

WASHINGTON (AP) – U.S. health regulators have authorized an extra dose of the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines in people with weakened immune systems to better protect them from the virus. The announcement Thursday by the Food and Drug Administration applies to millions of Americans who take immune-suppressing medicines because of organ transplants, cancer, or other disorders. The decision does…

27 People Aboard Carnival Cruise Test Positive for COVID-19

BELIZE CITY (AP) — Twenty-seven people aboard a Carnival cruise tested positive for COVID-19 just before the ship made a stop in Belize City this week, according to the Belize Tourism Board. The positive cases were among 26 crew members and one passenger on the Carnival Vista, which is carrying over 1,400 crew and nearly 3,000 passengers, the board said…

St. Luke’s, Essentia Health Reporting Steady Rise in COVID-19 Hospitalizations

Both Healthcare Facilities Continue to Urge Unvaccinated Northland Residents to Receive Their COVID-19 Shot

DULUTH, Minn. – Essentia Health and St. Luke’s are both reporting a steady increase in patients hospitalized with COVID-19. In both facilities, patients are coming in after being diagnosed with the more transmissible Delta variant of the virus. “We need to all do this together. It isn’t about politics, it’s about people’s lives,” said Dr. Peter Henry with Essentia Health….