Every county in the area saw an increase in the 14-day COVID-19 case rate in Thursday’s report from the Minnesota Department of Health.

Nine of the 11 counties tracked by the West Central Tribune had case rates of more than 100 cases per 10,000 residents. Statewide 83 of the state's 87 counties had case rates of 50 or more. Four counties had rates between 30 and 50; none were lower than 30.

Schools in Willmar, where the Kandiyohi County case rate has increased beyond 154 cases per 10,000, will begin distance learning Nov. 30 and continue for at least six weeks.

For a few weeks, several area counties had among the highest scores in the state. While their cases have jumped in the past week, other counties have increased even more dramatically. Stearns County's case rate remains in the top five in the state.

Several counties saw their case rates nearly double in the past week.

Newsletter signup for email alerts

More than 50 of the counties had rates of 100 or more, and three had rates of 200 or more.

School districts track positive cases in their buildings and consult with public health officials and other sources to determine how to operate their schools during the pandemic. The state releases the case rate report every Thursday.

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. 25 to Nov. 7 and how it changed from a week ago:

  • Big Stone County: 149.52, up

  • Chippewa County: 112.41, up

  • Kandiyohi County: 154.25, up

  • Lac qui Parle County: 75.30, up

  • Meeker County: 111.36, up

  • Pope County: 113.84, up

  • Redwood County: 99.15, up

  • Renville County: 106.65, up

  • Stearns County: 186.33, up

  • Swift County: 139.20, up

  • Yellow Medicine County: 127.69, up

Separately, the Minnesota Department of Health on Thursdays 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 as follows: MACCRAY Senior High in Clara City; Willmar Senior High; Eden Valley Secondary; Minnewaska Secondary in rural Glenwood; and Redwood Valley Middle in Redwood Falls.

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.

As a public service, we’ve opened this article to everyone regardless of subscription status. If this coverage is important to you, please consider supporting local journalism by clicking on the subscribe button in the upper right-hand corner of the homepage.