COVID cases plummet in Ely

by Tom Coombe
Reported cases of Covid -19 have declined dramatically in the Ely area, to a point that in-person learning would be allowed per current guidelines.
According to data released Thursday, only three new positive tests were reported among residents of the 55731 zip code in the last three days, and 10 overall in the last two weeks.
That’s in comparison to 40 in a two-week period that ended Dec. 3 and 57 from Nov. 14-27, and has brought Covid case rates to levels consistent to when the Ely schools provided in-person learning earlier this school year.
Ely’s zip code case rate per 10,000 in the last 14 days has plummeted to 16.11, compared to 37.04 last week and 91.80 Nov. 27.
Guidelines released by the state of Minnesota earlier this year suggest full in-person learning for rates of 10 and under, with rates between 10 and 19.99 recommended for in-person learning for elementary schools and hybrid at the secondary level.
The Ely School District is working toward returning to at least some in-person instruction the week of Jan. 11, and school administrators are set to consult with state and county health and education officials on Monday.
At a Dec. 10 meeting of the school’s safe learning plan advisory group, when the case rate was 37.04, superintendent Erik Erie welcomed the development, reporting that rates “went down significantly, which is great news for us.”
The rate declined by more than half since that session, and the advisory group was scheduled to meet again after deadline.
Within the school community, there were no active cases of Covid-19 for a fourth consecutive week. Overall, there have been 149 cumulative cases among Ely area residents since the onset of the pandemic in March.
The declines in Ely are more dramatic than decreases statewide and St. Louis County.
About 2,700 new cases were reported Thursday, after jumps of 7,000 per day or more in November, when the virus appeared to peak in Minnesota.
Within St. Louis County, new cases have dropped to less than 100 per day, including 67 Thursday, after averaging 230 or more during parts of last month.
Test positivity rates have sunk from 12.6 on the week ending Nov. 12 to 6.2 percent Thursday.
Overall, the Minnesota Department of Health reported 25,846 active cases of Covid -19 Thursday, down from a peak of 51,118 on Nov. 20, and the lowest since early-November.
In November Covid case numbers skyrocketed locally, within the county and across Minnesota, prompting restrictions including a four-week pause on numerous businesses, events and activities implemented by Gov. Tim Walz.
Wednesday, Walz eased some of the restrictions but extended others, and added a series of new requirements and rules for schools that have not yet made plans tor return to in-person learning.