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

Seven of the 11 counties tracked by the West Central Tribune reported higher case rates per 10,000 population than a week ago, and four reported lower rates.

The increases ranged from an increase of 18.32 for Chippewa County to increases of less than 1 in Pope and Stearns counties. The decreases in case rates were mostly in single digits, except for a drop of 17.61 in Redwood County.

Case rates have been increasing in the recent past statewide. In the latest report, 71 of the state's 87 counties had case rates of 30 or higher. Four weeks ago, 35 counties had case rates of 30 or higher. Six weeks ago, 11 counties had rates of 30 or higher.

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.

Newsletter signup for email alerts

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 per 10,000 residents 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 April 4 to April 17 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; Community Christian, Willmar; Willmar Middle School, Willmar; Eden Valley Secondary, Eden Valley; Litchfield Middle School, Litchfield; Litchfield Senior High, Litchfield; Minnewaska Secondary, Glenwood; Paynesville Elementary, Paynesville; Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg Secondary, Kerkhoven; and Canby Secondary, Canby.

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.