Most area counties see increase in 14-day case rates; Kandiyohi and Chippewa among highest in the state

The state Department of Health releases a 14-day case rate for the state's counties. The report can be used by school districts along with other factors in deciding the type of instruction model they use. The higher the number, the greater risk of COVID-19 spreading in a community.

Swabber Nancy Anderson administers a COVID-19 test on Oct. 6 at the COVID-19 testing site at the Willmar Armory. Kandiyohi and Chippewa counties are in the top three for highest 14-day case rates in the state. Erica Dischino / West Central Tribune

Many area counties saw increases in their 14-day COVID-19 case rate in Thursday’s report from the Minnesota Department of Health. Four counties had lower case rates than in last week's report.

The state reported that 19 of its 87 counties have case rates of 50 or higher per 10,000 residents, and five of them — Big Stone, Chippewa, Kandiyohi, Lac qui Parle and Yellow Medicine — are in west central Minnesota.

Chippewa and Kandiyohi counties have case rates in the 70s. Chippewa, at 79.93 cases per 10,000, and Kandiyohi, at 75.48 cases, have the second and third highest rates in the state. The highest is Rock County with a 90.30 case rate.

The majority of the state's counties have case rates between 20 and 50.

School districts use the case rates along with information from public health officials and other sources to consider how to operate their schools during the pandemic. The state releases the report every Thursday.


A high case rate does not necessarily lead to a change in a school district's learning model. Many other factors are taken into account.

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 Sept. 27 to Oct. 10 and how it changed from a week ago:

  • Big Stone County: 53.83, up
  • Chippewa County: 79.93, up
  • Kandiyohi County: 75.48, up
  • Lac qui Parle County: 50.20, down
  • Meeker County: 26.86, up
  • Pope County: 27.32, up
  • Redwood County: 26.74, down
  • Renville County: 31.93, up
  • Stearns County: 46.36, up
  • Swift County: 34.00, down
  • Yellow Medicine County: 53.71, down

The state’s recommended school options for operating 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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In 42 years in the newspaper industry, Linda Vanderwerf has worked at several daily newspapers in Minnesota, including the Mesabi Daily News, now called the Mesabi Tribune in Virginia. Previously, she worked for the Las Cruces Sun-News in New Mexico and the Rapid City Journal in the Black Hills of South Dakota. She has been a reporter at the West Central Tribune for nearly 27 years.

Vanderwerf can be reached at email: or phone 320-214-4340
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