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COVID-19 case rates continue at low levels in west central Minnesota, with all rates below 30; most are lower than a week ago

Most area counties have case rates in single digits or teens, and all are much lower than they were in the fall. The state Department of Health releases a 14-day case rate for the state's counties each week, showing the number new cases per 10,000 residents over the two weeks. The higher the number, the greater the risk that COVID-19 is spreading in a community. The case rate is one factor school districts can use to decide which learning model they will use.

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Many area counties saw decreases in their 14-day COVID-19 case rate in Thursday’s report from the Minnesota Department of Health.

The case rate measures the county’s number of newly confirmed cases over a two-week period per 10,000 residents. The state divides the number of new cases by the number found by dividing a county’s population by 10,000.

All area school districts have case rates less than 30, a contrast to late fall when case rates were in triple digits.

RELATED: See CORONAVIRUS

Among the 11 west central Minnesota counties tracked by the West Central Tribune, Big Stone and Renville counties are the only counties with rates in the 20s, and both rates decreased from a week ago.

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Of the counties reporting increased cases, the increases were small. Case rates for Chippewa, Swift and Yellow Medicine counties remained in single digits. Meeker County's rate was up but its case rate is still low at 12.57.

Statewide, Pennington County in northwestern Minnesota is the only one still in triple digits at 116.33. Just three of the state's 87 counties have case rates or 50 or more, and nine have case rates between 30 and 50.

School districts track positive cases and quarantine activity in their buildings and consult with public health officials and others to determine how to operate their schools during the pandemic. The case rate is one factor they may consider. The Minnesota Department of Health releases the case rate report at 11 a.m. each Thursday.

The state considers a 14-day case rate of 10 or higher to represent an elevated risk of COVID-19 transmission in the community, especially when the level is sustained or increases over time.

This list includes the current case rate for area counties from Feb. 14 to Feb. 27 and how it changed from a week ago:

  • Big Stone County: 27.91, down
  • Chippewa County: 6.66, up
  • Kandiyohi County: 13.36, down
  • Lac qui Parle County: 8.86, down
  • Meeker County: 12.57, up
  • Pope County: 12.75, down
  • Redwood County: 13.05, down
  • Renville County: 25.81, down
  • Stearns County: 13.14, down
  • Swift County: 8.50, up
  • Yellow Medicine County: 6.08, up

Separately, the Minnesota Department of Health each week also updates its list of school buildings that reported five or more confirmed cases of COVID-19 in students or staff who were in the building while infectious during a two-week reporting period.
Area school buildings on the list are Minnewaska Secondary, Glenwood; and BOLD Middle School and BOLD Senior High School, both in Olivia.

School buildings that have not reported a new case for 28 days will be removed. If five or more cases are reported in a school building in a subsequent two-week period, they will once again be listed.

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In 42 years in the newspaper industry, Linda Vanderwerf has worked at several daily newspapers in Minnesota, including the Mesabi Daily News, now called the Mesabi Tribune in Virginia. Previously, she worked for the Las Cruces Sun-News in New Mexico and the Rapid City Journal in the Black Hills of South Dakota. She has been a reporter at the West Central Tribune for nearly 27 years.

Vanderwerf can be reached at email: lvanderwerf@wctrib.com or phone 320-214-4340
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