About half the counties in west central Minnesota saw decreases and the rest saw increases in their 14-day COVID-19 case rate in Thursday’s report from the Minnesota Department of Health.

Some of the rates changed by small numbers. However, Swift County's rate more than doubled, to 34, and Big Stone County's rate increased about 20 points to nearly 44. The rate in Yellow Medicine County fell by about 15 points, but is still near 40.

Those three counties are among nine in the state with case rates higher than 30.

The information is used by school districts to help determine how to operate their schools. The state releases the report every Thursday.

Districts also consult with state and local public health officials before making decisions on changing their instruction models.

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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.

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 Aug. 30 to Sept. 12 and how it changed from a week ago:

  • Big Stone County: 43.86, up
  • Chippewa County: 25.81, down
  • Kandiyohi County: 16.64, down
  • Lac qui Parle County: 22.15, up

  • Meeker County: 17.33, up

  • Pope County: 11.84, up

  • Redwood County: 16.31, down

  • Renville County: 19.02, up

  • Stearns County: 17.73, down

  • Swift County: 34.00, up

  • Yellow Medicine County: 39.52, down

The state’s recommended school instruction options for schools:

  • Case rate of 0 to less than 10: In-person learning for all students

  • Case rate of 10 to less than 20: Elementary in-person, middle/high school hybrid

  • Case rate of 20 to less than 30: Both hybrid

  • Case rate of 30 to less than 50: Elementary hybrid, middle/high school distance

  • Case rate of 50 or more: Both distance.

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