Nine of the 11 counties tracked by the West Central Tribune again saw an increase in case rates in their 14-day COVID-19 case rate in Friday's report from the Minnesota Department of Health. All 11 of the counties have over 100 cases per 10,000 residents. Five of the counties have now surpassed 200 cases per 10,000 residents.

Kandiyohi County has surpassed Stearns County in case rates with a 296.31 case rate versus Stearns County's 247.16 case rate.

Statewide 86 of the state's 87 counties had case rates of 50 or more and 83 had case rates of 100 or more. One county had rates between 30 and 50; none were lower than 30.

Schools in Willmar, where the Kandiyohi County case rate has increased beyond 296 cases per 10,000, began distance learning Nov. 30, to continue for at least six weeks.

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.

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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 Nov. 8 to Nov. 21 and how it changed from a week ago, according to the report issued Friday:

  • Big Stone County: 131.58, no change

  • Chippewa County: 172.36, up from 148.21

  • Kandiyohi County: 296.31, up from 232.55

  • Lac qui Parle County: 194.89, up from 135.83

  • Meeker County: 226.18, up from 193.68

  • Pope County: 187.61, down from 197.63

  • Redwood County: 255.69, up from 178.72

  • Renville County: 218.06, up from 170.50

  • Stearns County: 247.16, up from 242.70

  • Swift County: 200.83, up from 180.64

  • Yellow Medicine County: 164.17, up from 140.86

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 as follows: MACCRAY Senior High, Clara City; A.C.G.C. Elementary, Atwater; Community Christian, Willmar; Kennedy Elementary, Willmar; New London-Spicer Sr., New London; Prairie Woods Elementary, New London; Willmar Senior High, Willmar; den Valley Secondary, Eden Valley; Minnewaska Secondary, Glenwood; Benson Secondary, Benson; Kerkhoven Secondary, Kerkhoven; Yellow Medicine East High School, Granite 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.

For related stories, see CORONAVIRUS.

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