The 14-day COVID-19 case rate has increased in many of the area's counties, according to Thursday’s update from the Minnesota Department of Health.

Pope County, at 80.15 per 10,000 residents, reported the state's highest case rate. Case rates rose in eight of the 11 counties tracked by the West Central Tribune. Many of the increases were in the double digits.

Rates in the area have been rising in general for several weeks. They are still lower than late fall, when most of the state's counties were in triple digits.

Seven of the counties with higher case rates had increases in the double digits, ranging from an increase of 10.19 in Renville County to a jump of 20.04 in Pope County. The smallest increase was in Kandiyohi County at 3.75.

Three counties had decreased rates, ranging from a drop of 4.43 in Lac qui Parle County to a decrease of 13.32 in Chippewa County.

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Case rates are rising across the state. A week ago 35 of the state's 87 counties had rates of 30 or higher. This week, the state update lists 51 counties have rates 30 or higher. Case rates in eight area counties are higher than 30.

School districts track positive cases and quarantine activity in their buildings and consult with public health officials and others to determine how to operate their schools during the pandemic. The case rate is one factor they may consider. The Minnesota Department of Health releases the case rate report at 11 a.m. each 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 March 14 to March 27 and how it changed from a week ago:

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; Willmar Middle School, Willmar; Minnewaska Secondary, Glenwood; and BOLD Senior High School, Olivia.

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.

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