Many area counties saw increases in their 14-day COVID-19 case rate in Thursday’s report from the Minnesota Department of Health. Chippewa County has the highest rate in the state at 114.74 new cases per 10,000 people over a 14-day period.

Seven counties around the state had case rates of 100 or more. All are rural counties, which have been hardest hit in the latest surge in COVID-19 cases in the state.

In the past two weeks, Chippewa and Kandiyohi counties recorded the second- and third-highest rates in the state. Kandiyohi County, with a case rate of 94.24 cases per 10,000 people, is now 10th on the list of 87 counties.

Some area counties saw decreases in their case rates, but many of the changes were 10 or less. All of the area counties have case rates in the 30s or higher.

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, Eden Valley Secondary School and Redwood Valley Middle School in Redwood Falls.

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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.

The case rate measures a 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, according to information from the Department of Health.

This list includes the current case rate for area counties from Oct. 11 to Oct. 24 and how it changed from a week ago:

  • Big Stone County: 65.79, up

  • Chippewa County: 115.74, up

  • Kandiyohi County: 94.24, up

  • Lac qui Parle County: 47.25, down

  • Meeker County: 35.96, up

  • Pope County: 32.79, down

  • Redwood County: 48.92, up

  • Renville County: 34.64, up

  • Stearns County: 81.50, up

  • Swift County: 34.00, down

  • Yellow Medicine County: 43.58, 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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