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

The state also updated a list of school buildings where five or more confirmed cases have been reported to have been in the building while infectious in the past two weeks. Schools in the area include MACCRAY Senior High School in Clara City, Roosevelt Elementary School in Willmar, Willmar Senior High School and Redwood Valley Middle School in Redwood Falls.

For the second week, Chippewa County and Kandiyohi County have the second- and third-highest case rates in the state. Only Yellow Medicine County saw a decrease in its rate. Many of the case rates changed 10 or less. Chippewa and Kandiyohi counties saw larger increases.

School districts use the case rates as a guideline for opening the school year and continue to consider them along with information from public health officials and other sources to help determine how to operate their schools during the pandemic. The state releases the report every Thursday.

An increase in case rate does not necessarily lead to a change in a school district's learning model.

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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 Oct. 4 to Oct. 17 and the change from a week ago:

  • Big Stone County: 61.80, up

  • Chippewa County: 111.57, up

  • Kandiyohi County: 92.36, up

  • Lac qui Parle County: 57.58, up

  • Meeker County: 30.76, up

  • Pope County: 34.61, up

  • Redwood County: 30.00, up

  • Renville County: 32.61, up

  • Stearns County: 65.68, up

  • Swift County: 37.19, up

  • Yellow Medicine County: 46.62, down

The state’s recommended school options for opening 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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